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Assault on America, Day 140: College Board steps in it with adversity score algorithm scheme

Adversity Scores
Seeing as it’s the time of year for graduations, it’s ironic how the vaunted establishment elitist College Board recently decided to drastically change the way students are evaluated for admission into America’s colleges and universities. To make a long story short, the College Board now thinks external factors (i.e. something other than correct responses on a SAT exam) should be taken into account by the powers-that-be in assessing a pupil’s actual test performance.

It’ll all done behind closed doors, too -- no chance for appeals, no explanations, no opportunity for persuasion and no making one’s case. A young adult’s future could be in the hands of people with their own biases, prejudices and politically correct mindsets, all passing judgment on how the student lived his or her life. How will parents feel about their kid’s background being methodically discriminated against by an algorithm fashioned by a bunch of academic stiffs in some east coast boardroom?

This is the most glaring current example of the privileged taking over an extremely important process, stamping their approval (or disapproval) on it and leaving heaps of people out in the cold wondering what just happened. It truly doesn’t get any worse than this.

The Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “News of affluent parents scamming to get their kids into top universities has again stoked complaints that college admissions are rigged. To level the socioeconomic field, the College Board now plans to assign students an ‘adversity score’ on their SAT admissions tests. This demographic handicap may instead fuel more public cynicism and harm middle-income kids.

“The College Board's new adversity score will include 15 variables such as a student's neighborhood crime rate, housing values and poverty. The variables will feed into an algorithm with weights assigned to each variable. Out will pop a score that students won't be able to see or challenge before it goes to colleges.

“Some schools have been seeking ways to quantify student socioeconomic challenges, and the adversity score would be superior to the blatant use of race. It could also help them compare similarly situated students. High-performing low- and middle-income students could likewise benefit from being compared to peers with similar means.”

So in other words, a statistically microscopic number of crooked parents who thought they were more clever by half and gamed the system to get their kids into elite schools (the recent scandal made famous by actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman) forced the pointy-headed poohbahs at the College Board to jettison the way it’s been done for, well, forever. Those rich and famous losers who shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to rig the process will now live in infamy for wrecking the lives of millions across the country.

Whoever said there’s no such thing as unintended consequences? This “adversity score” thing is a heck of a legacy and will provide the guilty with plenty to think about as they stare at the jailhouse walls wondering how their lives could’ve gotten so out-of-kilter.

There’s so much wrong with the concept of an “adversity score” it’s hard to know where to start. First, there will be tremendous incentives to “cheat” on the objective factors of one’s background. Whereas some parents now fudge their locations to get their kids into certain public high schools today, a sort of black market for “address fixing” will crop up in the near future. How much will the desperate pay to use someone else’s address who lives in Southeast Washington D.C., for example, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods in the entire country?

Will the College Board send out investigators to verify that a student actually lives/lived in the place they claimed on their test application? And if fibbing is found will it serve to subtract a few points from the suspect’s overall score or just trash the whole thing?

Besides, don’t institutions of higher learning already subjectively weigh a ton of individual criteria when poring over thousands of applications? It used to be an aspiring student would detail the hardships he or she overcame in his or her admissions essay -- and colleges were free to evaluate whether such backgrounds should count towards ensuring “diversity” in their student populations.

College admissions boards always encouraged prospective students to highlight their community involvement, volunteer work, church activities, athletic achievements, etc. -- basically anything that helps distinguish one student from another. Anyone who’s attended a university since the onset of affirmative action could easily garner there were students there who gained admission through something other than straight skills-based considerations. If that weren’t the case then why did such a high percentage of freshmen require “remedial” classes to bring them up to the standard of “college level” work?

No two students are the same and everyone’s at the mercy of decisions made by people they’ve never met nor hope to gain an audience with. As far as I know most people accept the system isn’t fair and yet they overcome with superior work ethics and attitudes. In addition, there are always alternatives -- if you don’t get into one school, you’ll have at least a few others that are more than willing to accept you. No one gets left behind in today’s world.

But perhaps the worst part of an “adversity score” is students have absolutely no choice over where they grew up, do they? Nor do they have a say in who their parents were. In a society that’s rapidly moving towards allowing individuals to determine their own gender, how is it fair to appraise the vast majority of the populace based on such immovable factors as neighborhood, land values and class? It’s a crock.

I recently attended my daughter’s college graduation and was taken aback by how politically correct academia has become (not really surprised, but still). She graduated from the College of Health and Human Services, where the keynote speaker droned on for half an hour on the need for graduates to consider racism in administering healthcare today as well as goaded them to work towards “social justice” and “environmental justice” in their everyday careers.

It’s like saying, “Gee, here’s an oppressed person -- better call in the specialist!” It’s reverse-racism in its ugliest form. So much for Martin Luther King’s dream of a colorblind society where people are judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. (Note: Incidents of racism have actually gone down under Trump -- statistics don’t lie.)

Whatever happened to the ‘ol Hippocratic oath where caretakers simply take patients one at a time and do no harm? Now colleges essentially instruct new professionals to weigh additional factors in their valuation of services. The graduation stage was one place I’d hoped to find sanctuary from the usual “everyone’s a racist” ideology -- but I was wrong.

If there’s an “adversity score” in the future, how bad will it get?

One can only conclude the College Board is making a mistake of epic proportions here, which is completely fathomable given their elitist backgrounds and mindless snobby adherence to the academic caste system. Some think they’ll end up paying the price, too.

Roger L. Simon wrote at PJ Media, “A number of excellent colleges are already going test-optional and choosing to rely on the actual record of the individual student. This is a good trend. Even better would be a revolutionary overhaul of our entire system of higher education that has become moribund. The proper approach would be a consumer-driven (i.e students and their families) higher educational system, not that institution-first system that we have with universities like Harvard and Princeton, wealthier than half of Africa and acting like grands seigneurs. After all, who is education for? Students. Not the institutions themselves and certainly not The College Board's social engineers.

“The consumer-driven system would naturally take on entirely different characteristics from our current one -- cheaper and more effective in every way. And less elitist. In an ideal situation, it wouldn't even be important whether one went to college or not, but whether he or she could fill a useful role in society, be a good citizen, and live a happy life.”

Simon’s is sound logic, and he’s right -- a college degree is becoming less and less useful in gaging job candidates because employers and productive people know it doesn’t necessarily equate to proficiency or greater knowledge. As my daughter’s graduation ceremony amply demonstrated, the academics don’t care about achievement as much as they crave looking like they’re advancing someone else’s concept of social awareness.

“Adversity scores” will only accelerate the decline of our culture. Bad things happen when we intentionally downgrade the brightest, smartest and most intelligent to cater to those who are not as bright, not as smart, and who didn’t study and work as hard. Don’t accept the insult sitting down.

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