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ACT has come out against the new adversity score that the College Board will soon assign to students based on their high schools and neighborhoods. The idea is to provide colleges with more context about applicants, who would not know their score. Marten Roorda, CEO of ACT, said in a blog post that he respects the intent behind the College Board's move, but he disagrees with it.
"The algorithm and research behind this adversity score have not been published. It is basically a black box. Any composite score and any measurement in general requires transparency; students, teachers and admissions officers have the right to know," Roorda wrote. "Now we can’t review the validity and the fairness of the score. And even if that changes, there is also an issue with the reliability of the measure, since many of the 15 variables come from an unchecked source -- for example, when they are self-reported by the student. The plan to report the adversity score only to the college is another example of not being transparent. If I were a student, I would become concerned or angry if the testing company would provide an adversity score to colleges without me knowing it, without me approving it, and without any of the end users understanding how this score is calculated."
Roorda also predicted more problems ahead: "If parents, teachers and counselors know test scores will be re-equated for adversity, some will attempt to manipulate and game the system. That is easy: you can use an address of someone you know who is living in a poor neighborhood or report lower family income."