The new scoring system will help fill the gap for students from challenging circumstances.

The SAT is changing how students from disadvantaged backgrounds are examined by college admissions offices. The SAT is administered by the nonprofit College Board, along with several other college admissions exams. The test is used in combination with high school grades to help college admissions officers decide which students to admit to their schools. The new scoring program was piloted in 50 universities and will roll out to all colleges across the U.S., beginning in fall of 2019.

The new environmental context system assigns a score to 15 different factors of a prospective student’s social and economic background. Each factor fits into three main categories: neighborhood environment, family environment, and high school environment.

Neighborhood will focus on the rates of crime, poverty, vacancy rate, and housing values where the student lives. Family environment will examine the student’s family median income, education level of the parents, and whether or not English is spoken a second language. Finally, high school environment will look at the student’s high school curriculum, rate of free and reduced meals, and AP class participation.

Environmental Context Profile, courtesy @CollegeBoard

A student’s environmental profile can be scored from 1 to 100 points. A score above 50 points indicates the student has a hardship, and a score below 50 puts a student in a privileged category. An even score of 50 indicates the student is average.

The new environmental score will appear as the "Overall Disadvantage Level" in the Environmental Context Dashboard next to the student’s SAT score. In a statement to CBS News, David Coleman, the College Board CEO indicated the score helps schools find hidden talent and highlight students that have overcome adversity.

The SAT has become a controversial part of the college admissions process in the last few years. Most recently, the test was the center of a college admissions scandal, where parents paid for kids to have extra time on the test or to have their kid’s answers corrected after the fact. More than 700 college and universities in the United States have either stopped using the SAT and ACT in admissions or have made the submission of either test optional.

What do you think about the environmental scoring? Tell us in the comments!