The College Board announced Thursday it will introduce a tool that allows admissions officers to see student SAT scores in the context of socioeconomic backgrounds.
This tool, which the College Board is calling the "Environmental Context Dashboard," or ECD, incorporates data from its testing record along with numbers from the the National Center for Education Statistics and the US Census — but does not include information on students' race or ethnic backgrounds.
To get the score, the College Board looks at two categories — neighborhood environment statistics and high school environment statistics. Neighborhood statistics include average family income, housing values, crime and poverty rates, familial structure, average education level, and more.
Data from the student's high school includes the average student SAT score of students who graduate and attend college, the number of AP classes offered and AP scores, and the percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, among other things.
"There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community — the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family’s service to our country," College Board CEO David Coleman said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News Thursday. "No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context."
Coleman said that the program has been piloted at 50 higher education institutions, and the College Board plans to make it widely available in 2020. Students won't be able to see their "adversity score," but college admissions officers will.
A student's ECD score, or "overall disadvantage level," will fall on a scale of 1 to 100, with 50 being the national and/or state average of high school students. Admissions officers will be able to see both averages.
Any number above 50 signifies "a more 'adverse' environment," per a College Board explainer and example of the dashboard provided to BuzzFeed News.
For decades, SAT data has shown an obvious correlation between student scores and household income.
"There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” Coleman told the Wall Street Journal Thursday. "We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”
Even though the ECD does not take race into account when creating a student's "adversity score," there is a strong correlation between ethnic background and average household income in the United States, which is also reflected in SAT scores.