So-called SAT 'adversity score' piloted in the Triangle

Use of the so-called "adversity score," attached with the SATs was piloted at NC State, along with other universities, and will be used at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill next year, according to officials.

The College Board, which administers the SATs, said the Environmental Context Dashboard doesn't alter a student's SAT score and provides contextual information on students.

"The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less," said College Board CEO David Coleman, in a statement. "It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked."

The Environmental Context Dashboard, referred to by some as the "adversity score," was piloted at 50 schools and there's a planned rollout of 150 more.

The College Board will calculate a student's disadvantage level. They'll look at neighborhood family and school. They'll examine 15 factors closely, including poverty rate, crime and median income in their neighborhood.

They'll also look at whether the student has a single parent or speaks English as a second language. Race will not be a factor. The so-called "adversity score" will be provided to participating universities.

Christoph Guttentag, Duke University's Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, said it will provide universities with a better understanding about applicants.

"I don't see us changing the way we look at an SAT score," Guttentag said. "I see us understanding a student better because of the information that we get. I think people are imagining that admissions officers will add points or take away points from a score because of this new information. That's not how it's going to work."

An NC State spokeswoman said the score is so new it will take some time to figure out what the information actually means and whether it should be incorporated into the admissions decision process.

UNC-Chapel Hill plans to use the "adversity score" next year.

"No student can be defined fully by a single attribute, whether that attribute is a test score, a GPA or an activity outside the classroom," said Steve Farmer, Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions, UNC-Chapel Hill, in a statement. "For that reason, we will continue to evaluate each student individually, comprehensively, and holistically, with the information provided by the dashboard."

"I don't know yet how many students it'll affect," Guttentag said. "I don't know yet how many decisions it'll affect. We always crave information. We always crave context. We always want to know as much about a student as we can. So I'm hopeful that for some students, at least, it'll give us a better sense of where they're coming from, and that'll help us make a more informed decision."
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