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Thoughts on “Disadvantage Scores” in college admissions. []

Getting the most value out of everyone is key to a successful society - for every capable person who's overlooked is a lost opportunity. It’s been argued that the college admissions sorting process often overlooks capable candidates who scored poorly on the SAT. The College Board, who runs the SAT, just announced that they’re expanding a program, called the “Environmental Context Dashboard” (ECD), that tries to score each student economic and social disadvantages. The purpose is to highlight lower SAT-scoring students who may have done better if they grew up in a better environment.

It is expected that participating colleges will admit students based on a combination both the ECD and SAT such as: Score = a SAT + b ECD.

The IDW often stresses the important of equality of opportunity. Does the ECD have the potential to help? What would you need to know to be in favor of it? What could go wrong?

Admin 8 May 17
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The dumbing down of people is in full swing now. From participation trophies that encourage mediocre performance and now to crowding out excellence at college level. Sad days in society. By the way, poverty, environment has nothing to do with intelligence or willingness to learn. It only has to do with monetary resources.

Nettie Level 3 June 2, 2019

How Eric Weinstein sees it...


Well, see ...
We’re already basically “Grading on a Curve” but apparently “we” don’t like the results of that “Curve” because the “Curve” seems to be located in the wrong X-Y axis ...
The best way to CHANGE the location of the “Curve” is to change ONE of the Inputs ... guess which input is easier to “jigger” with.
If we can’t get kids to become more knowledgeable as they go through Daycare-Kindergarten-Elementary-Junior & Senior High Schools (where we’ve already changed “Graduating High School” to “Getting a HS ‘Degree’” ) then, let’s try to pretend that whatever knowledge they DID manage to accumulate will be translatable to the “Real Worldl” by creating “Fake Tests” ...

This is not a Solution to the Problem this is simply another Usless Feel Good Problem Creator.


@admin these post are they for you personal biases uses reasoning to run and manage the site operation?

While i’m not “Admin” I’m wondering if you are capable of posting a coherent question?
As to the questions posted by Admin, they are legitimate and viable.
I don’t see them as overly “biased” though more typically of interest to Conservatives than to Fuzzy Bunny Snowflakes (Neo-Liberals).
I wonder what your point is?

@Bay0Wulf as I do see your use for insults amusing it can be harmful to some try not to do not is a suggestion from me and @admin I am sure. And my taging admin in any comments I make is a personal matter not of your concern thank you have a great day

No “insult” was intended. In fact, it was an actual question.
In fact this post is as unclear as the previous.
As to this being a “personal matter” ... this is an “open forum” ... how do you figure it’s a “personal matter”?


It is Harrison Bergeron


Here we go again. Lowering the standard so we have more degreed dummies. THe idea of the test was to determine the applicant's probability of success. We played this give away game before and all we got was to import capable employees, while colleges produced several generations of burger flippers. The entire school system needs to stay the hell out of social engineering and produce smart problem solvers and critical thinkers.

kg4ooa Level 5 May 18, 2019

What could go wrong? Well, it pretty much screws the middle class. Let's say a person grows up in a disadvantaged situation, works his ass off trying to make a better life for himself through sacrifice and hard work, is finally able to move to a nicer neighborhood with a good school for his kids and now the kids will be at a disadvantage.

The original purpose of the Scholastic Aptitude Test was to level the playing field and judge students solely on their aptitude without regard to any other factors. It's been around for a while so if studies show that the SAT does not fit this criterion, then change the test or eliminate it.

This Disadvantage Score is a play on words - it's ranking socio-economic 'privilege', but the scores are hidden and the specific metrics are secret. This is deceitful. It's politics.

How do you truly measure disadvantage?
What about a foster child who is in the home of an upper middle income family?
What about children in homes of 'privilege' who must deal with abuse, neglect, or some other adversity?
The questions about these certain situations are many and if we are all trying to be fair - if their adversity cannot be addressed in this Score, then there shouldn't be a score. Make a test to illustrate aptitude or set some standard to assist with admission based on academic performance throughout high school, extracurricular activities, or essays.

On a personal note, I let my daughter read about the new Disadvantage Score and told her she was taking the ACT next year instead of the SAT.


I think the problem is not necessarily with adding more scores to create a more holistic numeric measure to predict student outcomes.

It's with the fact that scores on mathematical and verbal competency gained through experience in high school most times determine entrance at all. All this proposal would do is punish people for growing up in advantaged backgrounds by having to score even higher to compete with those with less advantaged backgrounds...once again only as a measure of socio-economic status. I feel like the the idea of an SAT score having such a large impact on college admittance is the problem to begin with.

Every college should be free to come up with its own system, and there shouldn't be an public universities to begin with. Public schooling encourages standardized measures to avoid some kind of automatic state-instituted bias. But if all systems were decentralized and private, it is likely that no company like the college board could increase its power to the point that it has and no one score or couple of very rudimentary indicators can determine whether or not a specific college and its offerings are right for a specific student.


What could go wrong? The whole thing is wrong from the start. It is a manipulative attempt to use a pseudo system of measurement that will somehow re-engineer the lives of minority student to look like they didn't grow up with the disadvantages that they had and which prevent them from functioning at the academic level they need in order to succeed in university. This whole thing is a joke but no one will admit it. You can't do what they claim they are doing because it is all arbitrary.
It assumes that being disadvantaged is somehow quantifiable when it isn't. Humans are much more than the sum of their experiences.
They are only trying to rescue an already failed system. The failure starts at home with single parent, fatherless families. It starts with a subculture that allows students to miss more days of school than they attend. You can't fix that. Only the people involved can fix it and they refuse to do so.
In the end the more you take the consequences out of failure the more you encourage it and the less likely people will be to ever look introspectively because they can rely on being able to blame something or someone else for their predicament.

Chicago Level 7 May 17, 2019

Good stuff. I'm really liking your posts, @Chicago

@chuckpo thank you. I've been enjoying your posts also.


Tests like these are built to sort people. All of the words they write about the tests are subterfuge, probably used to bolster the testing companies from lawsuits. This new proposal is merely an attempt to resort the successful test takers into a prettier picture based on whatever criteria they want to maximize.

chuckpo Level 7 May 17, 2019

public ed curricula is the same in every school district and school house across the land. you don't have to live in the suburbs in order to grasp the elementary concepts of the three R's nor the advanced complexities of trigonometry. I dare say the full curricula of K-12 (and above) can be taught and learned in a grass hut with nothing more than a good teacher, a chalkboard, books, paper, pencils and most importantly a classroom filled with wiling and cooperative students - and I believe it has been done that way. "Disadvantaged" criteria is an obvious work around the growing unpopularity of racial/diversity quotas. Living in "economically disadvantaged" zones is no excuse for why little Jamal cannot proficiently read and spell and write by the time he is 18 years old and low and behold standing proudly in cap and gown to receive his HS diploma! Wow! So now, his eyes are looking around and he (and his parents or advisors/mentors) are saying Little Jamal was disadvantaged in K-12. That SAT or LSAT is racist! It is designed for White people! Which is an abject falsehood. The test screens for proficiencies that are SUPPSED to have been acquired in K-12. That's all it tests for. So now these racist quota systems (which is really what the "disadvantaged scaling is about) are put in place which results in denying academically qualified people access to College level education in favor of people who wasted their K-12 opportunities and at age 18 are functionally illiterate and will need at least 2 years of remedial education classwork before they can begin to function at entry level college curricula. Talk about unfairness! These "work arounds" or quota systems are the very definition of racial bias and now with the "disadvantaged criterium" a class biased way to artificially create an imaginary "leveling" of the proverbial playing field. As is obvious with my remarks here I will say flat out I am a firm believer in the value - the objective fact that in order to create the very best of any endeavor and in this case we are talking about Higher Education the principles of academic merit, competition, self discipline in applying ones own time and talent to hard work is the ONLY way to assure the best outcome. Any quota systems or work arounds based upon demographic criteria serve only to reduce the outcome to the lowest possible common denominator.

iThink Level 8 May 17, 2019

So if I score well on “Eubonics” it might get me into college?
Environmental Context ... economic and social disadvantages?
This sounds like a Very Fancy Way to say; “Affirmative Action” or maybe “Political Correctness”.
Are you telling me that if people get INTO college through a “Disadvantage Program” that the colleges won’t then have to make up “Special Disadvantage Courses”?
How about the Current Programs where pretty much EVERYBODY gets all sorts of free remedial assistance ... free tutoring ... free chances to take something again (after failing ... repeatedly)?
If you’re the right ethnicity there’s Currently a FREE Full Ride at most colleges as long as you’re NOT “White” and can pull the “right” levers.

Sooo ... once these people get OUT of their Special Disadvantage Courses, are there going to be “Special Disadvantage REAL World JOBS”?
I’m okay with taking SAT tests geared toward the Study Program desired and not the ones that aren’t applicable ... like why high end math for Marine Biology?
However, “Special” is BS

I see most “HR” (Human Resources) as being similar to the “Political Officers” of the USSR.
Their jobs seem to be mainly pushing for, and assuring the implementation of Leftist Propaganda Under the guise of being “For the People” ... “Supporting the Little Guy” ... the problem of course is that what it seems that they mostly do is apply a form of discrimination and protecting their “People” as defined by the Left.

I lost my first “Real” job at the age of 16 to Affirmative Action.
I was working in a textile place where they printed patterns onto cloth, night shift. The shift was composed of about 15 Hispanics and me ... a white local kid. I had just gotten my first “raise” of $.35 per hour (partly because I had learned to speak “Spanish” while working in orchards and picking crops ... so I could “communicate” with the rest of the workers) when a week later I was terminated by this new program, “Affirmative Action”.
It was explained to me that the company had to have a “position” available so they could hire a “minority person” ... a Black ..
I pointed out that there WERE NO “Blacks” in the area (there weren’t ... even the Hispanics were from somewhere else) AND that Everyone Else was Hispanic (wasn’t Hispanic a “minority”?) as a White Kid I was the “minority” ...
No matter, I was terminated so they could “hold a spot” for the first Black that came along ...


The SAT is an incomplete measure of potential ability.

The ECD is the wrong way to address that issue.

Our education systems needs to recognize that there are other types of useful and applicable intelligences, besides the standard "verbal and quantitative" of standardized testing. Adapt to incorporate those other types of intelligences, don't just implement a program that effectively gives a score boost to economically impoverished students.

Oh, I've heard this line before. Usually it is worded like this, alternative ways of knowing? It is usually used by the Natives in Canada. But what, is an alternative way of knowing that actually results in human advancement?
There is no alternative way of knowing. There is only one way to know the world around us and that is to break it down, analyze the components and then put them back together. folklore and non-literate knowledge that was supposedly handed down by our elders isn't knowing. It is guessing at best and just plain outright error at worst.


As of yet, I have not seen the ECD documents, I did the SAT at 14, so can not give honest judgment. Do see Pros and Cons. In time will see an outcome. It still will be what the school's administrators want. If used without bias, it may show student's ambitions and capabilities to motivate directions for learning and advancement. If used with bias, it may make the school look good, for a while. I'm curious about the ECD because that will lead to admission counselor's opinions. Let's hope it helps.

You can't get minority success if you baby them. I am Black and I took both the SAT and ACT and did just as well as my White classmates. But you know what made the difference in my education? It was our mother. She believed in education and worked hard to send us to private Christian schools.
It is the quality of parenting that needs to improve. They are focused on the wrong thing. The Black subculture is what causes Black students to fail. Parents set the example and establish the rules. It isn't hard to do but it does take effort, self sacrifice and spending more money on enriching your child's environment than you spend on your wigs, weaves, dreads, luxury cars, jewelry and it means not having children when you can't afford them, not sanctioning abortion, or don't want to invest yourself in them.

@Chicago I do agree, in up bringing you get motivation or not, parents give your first teachings. As you grow you learn from your environment so the subculture is what most follow. I see if the ECD is an evaluation used without negative bias it may help with motivation.

@MilesPurdue the ECD is something that a young child isn't going to be aware of during his elementary and high school years and therefore will not serve as a motivator at all. What motivates a child at this stage of life is parental encouragement and encouragement from the surrounding community. A supportive peer group is also important.
The real problem is that the Black and Native American communities don't value education. I grew up in the ghetto and I've taught on Native Reserves in Canada and I can honestly say that education isn't a priority for either community. School attendance is a big predictor of academic success as is whether or not you live in a 2 parent family. It isn't by accident that these 2 lowest performing ethnic groups on both sides of the border also excel in school absenteeism and percentage of children living in fatherless families.


I understand the desire to ‘level the field’ for some. Why did they pick only those disadvantages? Because they know who they want to benefit from this policy. Why not consider such things as alcoholic or drug addicted parents, mental illness in the family, obesity, health issues, criminal parents, Crime victims, sufferers of depression, social awkwardness, etc, etc. I’m skeptical because I know many kids who worked hard, studied hard and did all the right things to excel in school will get passed over in favor of less deserving (in terms of effort) kids. Look at the discrimination against Asians in college admissions.


I'm not against it. Tests are not infallible and universities have successfully experimented with different means of measuring aptitude, e.g., going "testless" and focusing on essays. Moreover, my understanding is that most affirmative action gives a chance to deserving people who wouldn't otherwise get a chance due to systemic discrimination. Their outcomes in college would be a good measure of this.

That being said, I think a better solution would be to improve and increase access to public early, primary, secondary, and higher education. Today, the disadvantaged students who do go on to success in college are often identified and prepared from an early age. Putting band-aid solutions on elite institutions only serves to create a more equal elite.

Public institutions should work to create a more educated and equal society. To do that, we need to tax the wealthy more; expand public educational institutions and fund them more; and stop relying on philanthropy.

A more educated and equal society - I disagree. I think a more unequal society, in that the highly intelligent go-getters are pushed to the highest levels of access so that they can better benefit society, be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, etc... Having an accurate assessment test should help and not deter. And, more importantly, stop casting aspersions on those that fit a working class model. For many, at least 1 out of 3 college graduates, the college degree is a waste of time and money. Think of the added value to their lives (and others) had they not wasted 4 years and spent $100,000 s on an unused degree.

As for school spending - US Per Capita Spending vs results over time - []

Here's an article where the Guardian documents higher cost of US education vs lower results []

Access to primary and secondary education is close to 100% and foreigners are prevalent on US college campuses.

A growing number of college graduates are underemployed. []

@RobBlair Foreign students are prevalent because they pay full tuition, subsidizing American students, and because the mission of elite universities has become to educate the world's best, brightest, and future leaders.

Our prosperity has historically increased not from class stratification but from expansion of public education. I'm not saying that all working class people should go to college, though most would benefit from some time studying the liberal arts and how to be a citizen. And while a college degree may not help as much as it used to, it still gives people a big leg up.

The fact that not everyone can cut it is more reason that increasing access should be a no-brainer, especially for advanced degrees. Cost is a huge barrier and it is being driven up by the expensive tastes (e.g., for new facilities) of wealthy donors. And our primary and secondary schools are not preparing people in disadvantaged communities.

@WilyRickWiles At Drexel, there were a lot of freshmen who subsidized the seniors as well (they dropped out). Admissions allowed students who were graduating high school with a C average in Math to major in engineering. Leading these students on cost them real money and time. That's an example of increased access but the no-brainer is to tell them no.

I used to think that you can do whatever you put your mind to. Now I firmly disagree with that philosophy. There are people at all levels of aptitude and it is important that people recognize their own limitations and play to the strengths they have. Obscuring peoples aptitude on a standardized test is leading people on.

@RobBlair Perhaps there's a balance to be struck? The standards are so high in the Engineering school at the public University of Illinois that local students with good grades and test scores from good schools can't get in unless they later transfer from the aviation school, for example. Never mind the cost if they do make it. These are people who go on to succeed but have to jump through a lot more hoops. Our public institutions have become too focused on prestige.

@Guido_Provolone Yeah, that doesn't seem to be working. It's just a way to make segregation great again.

@Guido_Provolone As opposed to folks like Christian Dominionist Betsy DeVos?

@Guido_Provolone DeVos is the Secretary of Education. She is also a leader in the charter school movement.

In her words, "It goes back to what I mentioned, the concept of really being active in the Shephelah of our culture — to impact our culture in ways that are not the traditional funding-the-Christian-organization route, but that really may have greater Kingdom gain in the long run by changing the way we approach things — in this case, the system of education in the country."

Historically, Christian conservatives have been interested in giving public funds to religious schools in order to maintain segregation. That's how the modern conservative movement started.

@Guido_Provolone And charter schools just haven't led to better outcomes. It is not a competitive market in the same way that consumer products are, for example.

@Guido_Provolone You said "If one is inclined moar to the Left." DeVos is an example of an opposing view (to the left).

@WilyRickWiles Moreover, my understanding is that most affirmative action gives a chance to deserving people who wouldn't otherwise get a chance due to systemic discrimination. POTUS Trump's abolishing that abomination will go down in history as one of his greatest accomplishments to the benefits of this society.

Affirmative action is discrimination, what else can you call a policy that by its very purpose promotes ethnicity over positive curricular qualification. You're just a bitter zealot! You might want to live or work in a structure designed by an engineer who earned their degree by essay, but I call liar on that also.

Everything you write on this site, is for the purpose of causing disharmony and disruption, and for what insidious end or cause, doubt we will ever know. But let me say in closing, as even responding to anything you say causes a deep revulsion in me, as speaking to the Anti-Christ probably would, (although that characterization might credit you with more cunning and intelligence than you deserve), people are catching onto your agenda and it makes my heart glad that your nonsense is being exposed for what it is, NONSENSE!

@purdyday "over positive curricular qualification" That's a big assumption there.

@purdyday If people like you were in charge here (I hope they're not), you would never have diversity of thought. You just want people to validate your groupthink!

@purdyday Though I have to admit, your comments make me feel pretty powerful!

@WilyRickWiles At first I was going to stay out of this conversation but I had to jump in when you brought up engineering students because I have a son who is a mechanical engineer. The engineering program he attended was at a public Canadian University and it wasn't easy. Thankfully my son had good grades entering post secondary and his grades in math, physics, chemistry were top notch. I say this not to brag but because I wouldn't want anyone being engineer who was not at the top of his/her class. When we talk about lowering the academic abilities of those who are engineers, doctors, veterinarians, chemists etc. we can't forget that we are also talking about the lives of those people who will rely upon their academic pedigree when they go for that health exam. enter that skyscraper, etc. Even firemen have to be top notch in terms of their academics and physical prowess. I certainly don't want an inferior fireman on the job when my house is burning down with my family trapped inside.
We wouldn't tolerate a company that put an inferior product on the car lot, grocery shelf, new home etc. so why will we be willing to tolerate a post secondary educational institution that put out people who weren't as smart as they could be? In the end I don't care about the racial composition of the fire department when that fire engine comes to my burning house. I'm not going to send them back because they crew isn't representative of the racial and gender makeup of my community because I want my family saved. That is what the fire department does. It saves lives and property. It shouldn't be forced to bear the burden being handicapped in its mission to the so called greater cause of equality. Equality won't bring back my family or save them from injury.
Schools should take the best performing students period. Having someone of lesser intellectual ability is also an economic burden in a competitive world. Education isn't a charity game. It is meant to filter out those who can't perform from those who can. Life is competitive and children had better learn to deal with it.

@Chicago Fair point for academic programs in certain strict engineering disciplines, but the engineering school in question also includes software engineering, which was what I was thinking of when I wrote that comment (probably should have mentioned it). And again, it's a public institution. I think it is excessive to require near-perfect test scores, 4+ GPAs, extracurricular involvement, etc. just to get in, when there are many more qualified local students.


People with higher IQs are more successful.
More successful people are richer.
Rich people like to live in rich neighborhoods.
Rich people have higher IQ children.
Higher IQ children score higher on the SATs.

The American higher education system is historically one of the best systems to go through the population and sort us by intelligence. In Murray's book "Coming Apart" he attempts to illustrate why this sorting is not entirely a positive thing (a continuation of what he tried to discuss in "The Bell Curve" ). The social fabric of the more successful has been maintained. Meanwhile, the less successful, who have been indoctrinated with the "don't get married, don't go to church, do what you want" social mantra are diving into deeper social failure.

I argue that the solution isn't to promote people above their abilities (which is what these affirmative action programs wind up doing) but to re-value the working class and to de-value the college degree.

I don't think that we should devalue the college degree. What we have to do is to value both and I'm not saying that because I don't want to offend anyone. The truth is that you can get a good education and learn a valuable skill by attending a trade school. Plumbers make very good money as do car mechanics.
What we have to do is to stop offering garbage degrees to post secondary students. Degrees such as feminist studies, black studies, community organizer etc. are really things that can learned on one's own and should be because no one is really willing to pay for them in terms of employment. These degrees are only of value to businesses that are somehow connected to the government or the government itself.

@Chicago Many job advertisements suggest that a bachelors degree is required to be hired. In many cases this requirement is there to use colleges to weed out people who don't have some minimum IQ. Instead of using a liberal arts degree as an elaborate IQ test for employment, I suggest employers actually provide job specific testing and a recruitment period to evaluate candidates. That is what I mean by devaluing the college degree.

Very good


It’s difficult to trust anything that comes out of the academia these days, or the NPR, for that matter. On the surface, this appears to be another victim-class rendering of society to justify “positive discrimination” policies. They were called out for being blatantly biased against Whites and Asians and so they cooked up this little scheme.

Given the trend data, it’s likely another racist attempt to stuff a worldview down America's throat. After all, why should one be academically disadvantaged because their parents have money? Why should that matter, at all? Anyone with enough discipline can receive a decent education at the local library with a hundred bucks in late fees. How, precisely, is it fair to enforce discrimination against kids from a particular background, rich or poor?

You can’t pretend to be affording “equal opportunity” by purposefully undermining equal access. Equal Opportunity also requires Equal Motivation (because people interpret its success by the OUTPUT statistics), and that doesn’t exist for a variety of reasons, some of which are cultural. The premise is flawed.

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