Amid growing scrutiny of the role wealth plays in college admissions, the New York City-based College Board introduced its Environmental Context Dashboard about two years ago to provide context for a student’s performance on the test and help schools identify those who have done more with less.
The version used by about 50 institutions in a pilot program involved a formula that combined school and neighborhood factors such as advanced course offerings and the crime rate to produce a single number.
Critics called it an overreach for the College Board to score adversity the way it did academics. College Board CEO David Coleman agreed, saying in a statement Tuesday that "the idea of a single score was wrong. It was confusing and created the misperception that the indicators are specific to an individual student."
The nonprofit announced several changes to the tool Tuesday, including the decision to give students access to the information about their schools and neighborhood starting in the 2020-2021 school year.
The College Board announced it would drop its "adversity score" from the SAT. (File)
Renamed “Landscape,” the revised tool is expected to provide data points from government sources and the College Board that are seen as affecting education, including whether the student’s school is rural, suburban or urban, the size of the school’s senior class, the percentage of students eligible for free- and reduced-price lunch, and participation and performance in college-level Advanced Placement courses at the school.
“We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent,” Coleman said. “Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”
Admissions officers also would have access to a range of test scores at the school to show where the applicant’s fell, as well as information like the median family income, education levels and crime rates in the student’s neighborhood.
The tool’s creation was an acknowledgment of persistent criticism of the use of admissions tests in an era of concern with unequal access to advanced coursework and high-priced tutors that further advantage those with the means to access them.
Between 100 and 150 institutions are expected to pilot the new tool this year before it would become broadly available next year.
Fox News' Barnini Chakraborty and The Associated Press contributed to this report.