Adversity Score Breakdown

The Adversity Score is a score averaged from two factors: school conditions and neighborhood conditions. Designed to help students raised in areas of high crime rate and poverty, the score would inform college admissions offices of the obstacles they had overcome.

The score would be a single number between 1 and 100 with a score under 50 indicating privilege and a score higher than 50 indicating disadvantages. Originally, the score would be submitted along with SAT scores to colleges.

Even though students will no longer get a score, their socioeconomic information will still be given to colleges. The College Board withdrew the original plan after backlash from critics arguing the policy falsely suggested a student’s academic ability.

Many students heavily criticized the Adversity Score and what it tried to achieve. One of these students is Sam Wang ’20.

“I think the adversity score is a very poor attempt by the College Board at being politically correct,” Wang said. “Adversity is not something that can be quantified because it affects different people differently.”

The College Board claims to stray away from the idea that test scores warrant success. In an official statement by David Coleman, the Chief of the Board, he explained the Board’s thoughts when it comes to standardized testing.

“There are a lot of amazing people with low SAT scores,” Coleman said. “There are a wide variety of people who are amazing in a wide variety of different ways.”

Critics called the statement hypocritical, citing the fact that the College Board still administer, have complete control over the tests. Students take these tests to get into college, so regardless of what they say, their tests still determine a student’s future.

Regardless of the talk from the College Board, the inclusion of the score was still canceled amid heavy criticism. In the state of Illinois, feedback was mixed, as about 50% of students belonging to low-income families would have benefited from the score.

The introduction of the score received little support from more economically sound students. Jacob Chan ’20 saw firsthand the confusion and backlash the score caused among his schoolmates.

“There were some myths about adversity score being the SAT’s version of affirmative action geared towards supporting minority communities and raising up low income groups,” Chan said.

Chan understood where the concern for the scores’ effects came from, but he would not be benefiting from the new score. Neither would many Stevenson students, since only 4.9% are classified as low income students.

“The Adversity Score would have probably had a noticeable effect on my standardized testing scores,” said Chan. “I, along with many others at Stevenson, have had the privilege of private tutoring for standardized testing.”

The College Board and the supporters of the new decision claimed that the score was not intended to hurt privileged students, but instead help disadvantaged students have a more even playing field.

Wang had a different idea of what the Adversity score, and what it tried to do. However, he did not see any impact that it would have on him.

“I don’t think the score would have significantly affected my college application process because most colleges I’m applying to already have considerations for disadvantaged students,” Wang said.

Going forward, the College Board plans to alert colleges of the level of disadvantage that students faced growing up, but will not quantify as a single score. So although students with disadvantages will be identified by college, the adversity score is no more.