The College Board has introduced a new score to go along with your SAT score. Unlike your SAT score, this is a score you can’t do anything about or even see. Its called an adversity index, which is a score from 1-100, that grades the environment you come from — including your high school and the neighborhood you come from. It tries to tell colleges what kind of challenges you might have encountered based on objective measures of where you come from geographically and the school you attended. Last year, the College Board did a beta test with 50 universities, said to be 150 schools this year, leaving people ruffled with this index.

They created this index on a number of factors:

Neighborhood Environment

  • Crime Rate
  • Poverty Rate
  • Housing Values
  • Vacancy Rate

Family Environment

  • Median Income
  • Single Parent
  • Education Level
  • ESL

High School Environment

  • Undermatching
  • Curricular rigor
  • Free lunch rate
  • AP opportunity

While the College Board is showing good intentions trying to factor in the achievement gap between rich and poor families, there are still a few problems with how they are going about implementing this adversity index.

1. Potential for inaccuracy

One of the factors they are listed as looking at are housing values. The problem with that is that housing values do not necessarily translate well. In California, rent is high and so are housing values and in turn there is a high poverty rate. But if you look at somewhere else like Dallas, higher housing values usually correlate with a higher community affluence. This comparison doesn’t reflect an accurate relationship.

Median income is also a factor that marks a red flag. First and foremost, there already is a government document that exists that requires parents to state their income, known as the FAFSA. The buck should start and stop there but by taking into account a community median income, families are bound to get lost in the shuffle.

2. Lack of transparency

Not only does the College Board not tell us how they formulate this index but they don’t tell us where they’re getting all the data nor gave notice when they ran the initial beta test. Also, this score should be made public  for students to see or even searchable by every high school in America.

3. Privacy

The College Board got their data from two sources: Public Information and Proprietary Information. They most likely got their public information using the U.S. Census but it is where they could of gotten their proprietary information that can be startling. The information that was used for the index closely aligns to what is asked on the SAT Questionnaire. Examples of these questions are

  • Do you speak English as a second language?
  • Did your mom/dad go to college?
  • What are your parents’ highest level of education?

What is shady about this is that the College Board is seemingly filling out you college application for you without your knowing. By choosing to answer these things you are not required to answer, you may be putting yourself in a more challenging situation and hurting your own chances of admissions. No one is advocating to be greedy but it comes down to the College Board being a little sneaky about asking you information and not telling you how it is going to be used.