College Boards’ new “Landscape” system levels the SAT testing competition

  • September 26, 2019

Financial status impacts almost every aspect of people’s lives. This is especially apparent in the fact that standardized test scores are directly proportional to students’ household income. According to studies from The New York Times, students with richer families tend to perform better than students with poorer families. This is because students from richer families can take advantage of better schools, extra study materials such as test preparation books, online memberships to more practices, and tutoring. Meanwhile, the students who can’t afford to pay for such opportunities are left behind, leading them to score lower. 

The College Board is not blind to this problem. This is why, in late May of 2019, they introduced the “Adversity score” to try to mitigate the problem. The system worked by providing colleges with a comprehensive score that described information about the student’s high school and neighborhood. 

However, the adversity score system quickly drew criticism. Opponents claimed that the score was not enough to accurately quantify the unique struggles that each student faces. The College Board decided to take action. In an interview with The Associated Press, College Board’s chief executive David Coleman stated to the LA Times that “the idea of a single score was wrong.” He added that “it was confusing and created the misperception that the indicators are specific to an individual student.” In response, the College Board recently decided to overhaul the system and replace it with what they believe to be a better system to level the testing field. 

The new system is called “Landscape” and it will provide colleges with separate scores based on whether the student’s school is in a rural, suburban or urban location. It will also take into account the size of the school’s senior class, the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and participation and performance in college-level Advanced Placement courses at the school. Colleges will also be able to see median family income, education levels and crime rates in the student’s neighborhood.

 Thus far, it is uncertain how colleges will feel about this new system. In a recent survey conducted by Kaplan Test Prep, admission directors were asked if they supported the old Adversity score and found that 14% strongly supported it, 24% somewhat supported it, 4% somewhat opposed, 2% strongly opposed and 56% said they didn’t know or were unsure. 

Despite the lukewarm response, Landscape will be in place by the 2020-2021 school year.

Information for this article came from InsiderHighEd, The LA Times, and The New York Times

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