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The College Board's New 'Adversity Score' Is A Joke

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
Chelsey Cox/Santa Fe Independent School District via AP

Education is important. I want my young adult offspring to get into a great college or university.

Sadly, my bribery fund is empty.

Must she, then, rely only upon working hard for good grades and preparing for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)? 


No. There is a workaround: find a way to improve our family’s Adversity Score.

“The College Board plans to assign an adversity score to every student who takes the SAT,” The Wall Street Journal reported last week, “to try to capture their social and economic background, jumping into the debate raging over race and class in college admissions.” 

This year, 50 colleges and universities, including Yale, used these new SAT measures; next year, 150 more will do so. After that, Katy bar the college door. 

Students are assessed on 15 not-fully-disclosed factors, things such as the level of crime and poverty in one’s high school and neighborhood, “the educational level of the parents,” and “family stability.” 

The other widely used standardized test, the ACT (American College Testing), is now working overtime to come up with its own measurement.

“An adversity score of 50 is average,” notes the Journal. “Anything above it designates hardship, below it privilege.”

Goodness’ sake, a mere two points difference on this new scale takes one from a hardship case to a person of privilege. Talk about upward mobility. 


Is this a great country, or what?

One problem, however, is that, as the song goes, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” Which, in this case, means the SAT will measure one’s school and neighborhood and home on crime and wealth, but it cannot look at an aspiring young person’s actual personal experience.

It will not judge the content of one’s character, but the character of one’s community. The more beleaguered the household, school and neighborhood in which you reside, using purportedly objective standards, the better for you — at least, in getting into the best universities.

This being a utopian and technocratic system, not a democratic-spirited or market service, students and their parents will not be permitted to know their score. Only the College Board and college admission folks will possess the formula that divines whether or not your student “built that” academic record. 

So, let’s be practical and problem-solving. How to climb the “Overall Disadvantage Index”? What sacrifices must we make for the advancement of our children?

Well, my wife and I could divorce — for the children. Coming from a single parent household would noticeably improve our daughter’s educational opportunities.


Obviously, we wouldn’t dare sink her chances by upgrading our own educations, since our level of completed schooling can and will be used against her in the court of . . . progressive college admissions. 

Lastly, how to become more a victim of crime? Felony-free homeschools certainly place kids at a distinct disadvantage in being disadvantaged. I guess we could move to a more dangerous neighborhood. 

Heck — what am I thinking?! — why not stay put and just commit crimes ourselves? Show some entrepreneurial initiative! Don’t be dependent on others; be the change we wish to see in our world.

On that one, though, I had better check my exuberance with my wife . . . that is, if our divorce hasn’t yet been finalized.

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