“Adversity Score”: SAT Scores To Be Adjusted for Income

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The College Board, the company behind the annual SAT test that partially determines where and whether a student can get into college, announced this week that they will begin assigning an “adversity score” to each student based on a variety of socioeconomic factors. And while those factors will not specifically include the race of the student, proponents of the change are not hiding the fact that race and diversity are indeed what this change is all about.

“The purpose is to get to race without using race,” said Anthony Carnevale, a former employee of College Board, in comments to the Wall Street Journal.

Students will not see the adversity scores, but they will be available to college admissions officers, most of whom are eager to diversify their student populations.

“This is literally affecting every application we look at,” said a Yale admissions officer. “It has been a part of the success story to help diversify our freshman class.”

The Wall Street Journal article notes that many colleges are concerned that the Supreme Court could ban affirmative-action policies based on race in the near future. The new College Board tool would then become more valuable, allowing colleges to get around the letter of the law by relying on race-indicating factors like poverty, neighborhood crime, and other figures adopted into the adversity scores.

For those parents concerned that their children will be punished for being raised without sufficient economic struggle, Florida State University’s John Barnhill was blunt: They will be.

“If I am going to make room for more of the poor and minority students we want to admit and I have a finite number of space,” Barnhill said, “then someone has to suffer and that will be the privileged kids on the bubble.”

To be sure, an affirmative-action policy based on income rather than race is a step in the right direction. There’s little doubt that whether you’re from the trailer park or the projects, your disadvantaged upbringing will have an effect on everything from your studies to your attendance as you go through your lower-education career. Perhaps this is a way to even the playing field without stepping too deeply into identity politics.

But the emphasis on racial diversity is still there. The fact that white, “privileged” kids will be denied the fruit of their hard work is still there. The idea that a student population is automatically “better” because there are this many Hispanics and this many blacks and this many whites…well, we don’t see where that idea has been proven by any scientific study. It’s just an idea – a feel-good mantra that bears little relationship to the real world.

This is, at the end of all the talk, a lowering of standards for certain students. And thus, a lowering of standards for America. Sorry, but that’s not okay.