When the College Board announced the creation of an SAT Adversity Score, we declared both on the pages of our college admissions blog and in the press that it would be eliminated in short order. Within just a couple of months, the short-lived SAT Adversity Score was no more as College Board bowed to its critics who poked holes in their plan. But, nonetheless, The Wall Street Journal has since obtained the College Board school adversity scores, scores that ranked high schools from 1 to 100 in terms of adversity. Apparently, College Board then brought these scores to a Georgetown data scientist who adjusted the average SAT scores of high schools across the nation based on this SAT Adversity Score. So what did the Georgetown data scientist find?
More than Half of High Schools with Highest Unadjusted Average SAT Scores are Private
As Doug Belkin reports for The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled “What Happens if SAT Scores Consider Adversity? Find Your School,” “More than half of the 50 high schools with the highest unadjusted SAT scores are private. Top public magnet schools performed exceptionally well in adjusted SAT scores, meaning their scores jump when adversity is accounted for. Of the 10% of high schools with the highest SAT scores, a total of 1,035, just 64 had an adversity score of 50 or higher on the College Board’s scale. Some of the poorest schools punched well above their weight while some of the wealthiest performed poorly. At the nation’s wealthiest high school, students score an average of 441 points higher on the SAT than students at the poorest high schools.”
Unsurprisingly, Adjusted for Adversity, SAT Scores of Test-Takers at Elite High Schools Fall
So we know you’re wondering: how did specific high schools perform in this analysis? Well, wonder no more. Allow us, if you will, to cherrypick some examples from The Wall Street Journal report. At Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the median SAT score, among the sample pool, is 1520. Adjusted for adversity, the median SAT score is 1262. At Collegiate School, the median SAT score among the sample pool is 1530. This same score, adjusted for adversity, is 1362. At Sidwell Friends School, these figures are 1480 and 1228, respectively. At Horace Mann School, the figures are 1480 and 1317. At Stuyvesant High School, the figures are 1480 and 1450. At Saint Albans, the figures are 1460 and 1212. At Trinity School, the figures are 1520 and 1353. At National Cathedral School, the figures are 1430 and 1187. At Harvard-Westlake School, the figures are 1475 and 1224. At Phillips Exeter Academy, the figures are 1450 and 1349. At Choate Rosemary Hall, the figures are 1390 and 1321. At Deerfield Academy, the figures are 1390 and 1293. We trust you’re finding the pattern.
These Adjusted SAT Scores Were Entirely Predictable
The SAT Adversity Score, as our readers know well, was created as a marketing ploy by College Board to gain marketshare over its chief competitor, ACT. All throughout SAT’s long history, College Board has essentially made the argument that the SAT is an exam that students — irrespective of their race, their socioeconomic background, their geography, their school — could succeed on. Of course, the very notion of adjusting SAT scores based on adversity defied the foundation of this argument. And it’s no surprise to us that students from top private schools whose parents can afford great SAT tutoring do well on the SAT — and that their scores would decrease when adjusted for adversity. It’s also no surprise to us that top magnet schools, when adjusted for adversity, see higher adjusted SAT scores. Or that some schools punched above their weight while others underperformed. It’s all kind of a duh if you ask us.