RALEIGH — UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University will join N.C. State in testing a new system in which they'll get an "adversity" score for some applicants that's supposed to take into account the hardships they've faced in their lives.
The College Board, which administers the SAT exam, announced Thursday that it will include the new adversity score alongside students' SAT results that are reported to college admissions offices. The adversity score will be calculated using 15 factors, including the relative quality of the student's high school and the crime rate and poverty level of the student's neighborhood, The New York Times reported.
The new score, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, has been piloted at 50 colleges and universities and will be expanded to 150 institutions this fall. N.C. State said Friday it was among the 50 schools in the pilot.
Duke and UNC-CH confirmed Friday that they'll begin receiving the information this fall on students applying to attend in 2020. They'll get the adversity score as part of a packet of information called the Environmental Context Dashboard.
The new score, which will not be shared with students, will be reported on a scale of 1 to 100 with 50 being average. The higher the number the more disadvantaged the student.
"At UNC-Chapel Hill we consider candidates holistically, taking into account everything we know about them and never forgetting that each is a unique and complicated individual," Steve Farmer, vice provost for enrollment and undergraduate admissions, said in a statement Friday.
"As part of these comprehensive and individualized assessments, we try to understand our students in the context of their families, schools, and communities," he said. "Although the materials we receive from our candidates and their schools already reveal much of this context, we think the Environmental Context Dashboard can provide still more, and we plan to start using it next year."
While Duke has agreed to receive the information, Christoph Guttentag, dean of undergraduate admissions, said that doesn't necessarily mean it will be used in making admissions decisions.
"Until we see this information in the context of everything else we know about the applicant it's hard to know in which situations or for which applications it will be useful," Guttentag said in an email Friday. "It's like anything new we learn about our applicants — until we see how it fits into the context of what we already have it's difficult to know how it'll be used."
Farmer said the adversity score will just be one part of the process for helping admit students to UNC-Chapel Hill.
"No student can be defined fully by a single attribute, whether that attribute is a test score, a GPA or an activity outside the classroom," Farmer said. "For that reason, we will continue to evaluate each student individually, comprehensively, and holistically, with the information provided by the dashboard one part of a much broader and more complicated portrait."
The SAT and ACT are the two main college admissions exams taken by high school students. The SAT has slipped in prominence in North Carolina since the state began requiring students to take the ACT in 2012.