Adversity score provides incomplete socioeconomic context for students

College Board has recently been facing scrutiny over adopting the Environmental Context Dashboard, more commonly known as adversity scores, to assign scores that balance test results with a student’s level of disadvantage. Because the adversity score may not be a comprehensive overview of the disadvantages students face, it is just one step in the right direction for a system that needs adjustment and polishing.

The adversity score was introduced by College Board as a way to make college admissions more equal and to address the reality that wealthier families can hire private tutors to improve a student’s scores. This became an issue amid the college admissions scandals in which affluent parents paid to have SAT scores altered for their children.

The new score would consider 15 factors, such as the crime rate and poverty level in the student’s neighborhood, to generate a score ranging from one to 100.

According to the New York Times, students with higher SAT scores usually come from well-off backgrounds with educated parents. With this new tool, students who have the potential to thrive at college but cannot keep up with more affluent students’ scores because of financial reasons can have a chance at a college education.

In addition, aside from standardized test scores, an adversity score would also change how admissions officers see the rest of the application. Students with higher adversity score would be assumed to have had less opportunities for extracurricular activities, so if they manage to impact their community without having money or opportunities on their side, it would mean more than their wealthier counterparts, whose schools offer numerous extracurriculars.

However, one major problem with the adversity score is that it does not take individual situations into account, such as a parent with a drug addiction, which would obviously affect how a student performs. It also does not factor in the student’s family’s income in order to create a need-blind admission system.

While students can write in application essays about challenges they have faced, the fact that an adversity score, which would be distinct for each person, doesn’t consider personal situations is unreasonable. It would be difficult to generate an adversity score for every single student who takes a standardized test and factor in individual cases, but those scores would be much more reflective of a student’s circumstances.

Perhaps one solution to this problem would be to allow students who believe they have a special circumstance that affects their ability to thrive in high school to send in an explanation of said situation in order to have their adversity scores modified.

Most students at Diamond Bar High School will be negatively impacted by this change, but clearly they also enjoy advantages over students at other schools. Despite the fact that the adversity score won’t necessarily boost admissions chances of DBHS students, students should focus on helping those who are less fortunate by supporting the main purpose of the adversity score.

The adversity score is only good in theory, and if it does get implemented, admissions officers should understand that it merely provides a general idea of what disadvantages a student had without accurately portraying the personal difficulties they may have faced.