Florida Colleges Weigh Adversity Scores Championed by Common Core Supporter in Admissions

If colleges and universities are concerned about income inequality and want more racial diversity among their students attending their schools, they just may have found the answer in a new admissions criteria.

When it comes to admissions, Florida State University (FSU) is joining dozens of other schools across the nation in using a new format called “adversity scores” which are designed to measure a student’s past in terms of dealing with social and economic issues.

Adversity scores given by college admissions officers measure 15 different factors which include the crime rate and poverty levels where the student attended high school and the neighborhood they were raised in.

According to FSU officials, adversity scores have led to greater racial diversity at the university. School officials say the new measurement increased its non-white enrollment from 37 percent to 42 percent among its incoming freshman class.

Students won’t be told what they scored but colleges and universities will see the data.

Proponents of adversity scores say they will give colleges a “greater insight” of their applicants and the struggles they went through growing up. Supporters also claim that many students who score less on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT  shouldn’t be punished if they grew up in a rough community where there was not a lot of economic opportunities.

But opponents of the new assessments argue that adversity scores are just being used to cover past failures dealing with affirmative action entrances into colleges and universities.

Conservative publications like the Wall Street Journal and National Review have reported that colleges like FSU are using adversity scores as an alternative to ensure greater racial and economic diversity while avoiding the challenges associated with effectively raising admissions standards for overrepresented racial groups.

Bob Schaeffer, the public education director at FairTest, said the promotion of “adversity scores” is the latest attempt by the College Board and universities to defend the SAT and other standardized tests against increasingly well-documented critiques of the negative consequences of relying on those tests for admissions.

“In fact, schools do not need the SAT or ACT – with or without ‘adversity scores’ – to make high-quality, admissions decisions that promote equity and excellence,” said Schaeffer.

David Coleman, the president of the College Board, is leading the charge for “adversity scores.” Coleman was one of the chief supporters of Common Core, the controversial curriculum standards. Common Core was pushed out of Florida thanks to parents protesting the standards and many elected officials who insisted the program wasn’t benefiting Florida students while taking away local control from school boards.

Coleman defended his “adversity score” program by stating that students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less are often overlooked in higher education.

“There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community, the children of poor rural families and who face the daily difficulties. No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context,” said Coleman.

Currently, the new program is used by 50 colleges and expected to grow to 150 schools later this fall.


Contact Ed at Ed.Dean@FloridaDaily.com.

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