College Board Backtracks

The College Board is reversing its position on providing an “adversity score.” The organization that oversees the SATs had introduced an index, the Environmental Context Dashboard, that assigned a rating to students. The rating incorporated data about a student’s circumstances, including poverty and crime rates.

Critics felt that a single score was an oversimplification of a student’s background. In an interview with NPR, CEO David Coleman was forthcoming about the mistake: "The first move was to admit that summing it up in a single score was a mistake, so we've stopped that."


The College Board’s official announcement couched the change in a new system: Landscape. Although the statement includes a quote from Coleman, he doesn’t admit the failing as directly:

"We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent. Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”


  • Why would the College Board take one approach for the official statement and another during interviews? What’s your view of this approach?

  • How would you describe the College Board’s goals of an adversity score? In your view, does the Landscape approach still meet those goals or water them down?

  • How might the recent admissions scandal factor into this story?