SAT ‘Adversity Score’: a sincere effort to address diversity or PR stunt?

The SAT has always correlated more strongly with a student’s socioeconomic status than any other metrics that it purports to test, like intelligence, aptitude, and reasoning ability. This proposed “adversity score” is decades late and far short of any solution that will dampen the arms race to master the SAT. It is a misguided suggestion, one borne of the current zeitgeist, in which equality of outcome trumps equality of opportunity.

Equality of opportunity, however, is a noble goal. Schools should only be commended for wanting to level the playing field for students with fewer financial and educational opportunities. How they accomplish this goal is the trickier question, and one that has different answers textured by the idiosyncrasies of each particular school. Almost surely, international students are going to find fewer spaces at top US universities because their parents are financially secure.

The universities are going to need to decide how important a student’s socioeconomic status is to their particular student body. If they want to address these issues in a serious and constructive way, they have no need for the SAT “adversity score”. And as more US universities better define the types of students they want on campus, they may soon find they have no need for the SAT at all.

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