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Who gets to define 'adversity' in college admissions?

Who gets to define 'adversity' in college admissions?
An "adversity score" will be added to SAT college entrance test results. (Joe Raedle / TNS)

To the editor: While the L.A. Times editorial board is correct in evaluating the prospects for success, or lack thereof, of the SAT “Environmental Context Dashboard,” the assertion that college admissions officers “should take into account the obstacles that students have faced and overcome” is a utopian dream, to put it mildly.

The fact that the SAT “adversity” score is based on publicly available demographic data is the least of the problems, for that method uses an objective source, even if it doesn’t really improve the system.

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The assumption that everyone will honestly identify “obstacles” is a fantasy for many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes an obstacle. Exactly who decides whether the obstacle has been overcome? And, what about the obstacles that have not yet been overcome?

Scott Perley, Irvine

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To the editor: I certainly agree with you regarding the addition of a mysterious pseudo-scientific “adversity score” to the SAT.

We recently discovered how the children of several wealthy parents were able to gain admission into prestigious universities through fraud, so we don’t need another “mystery” in a process that ought to be fair and objective.

The whole business of athletic advantages (which also played a role) does not make sense. Let the professional sports leagues train their athletes. Under our system, today, young Copernicus may not have gotten into the University of Bologna.

But I would be reluctant to drop the SAT. As you pointed out, it may not be a significant indicator of future achievement. Yet, it is at least objective, so it should be kept until something better is found.

Jack Kaczorowski, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The L.A. Times is right that an SAT adversity score is a bad idea. It would be another step in the “dumbing down” of America.

Let’s strive to bring our standards up, not down. Otherwise the acceptable SAT answer to the equation “13x -2x + 9x =?” will be “anywhere between 15x and 25x.”

Robert Bubnovich, Irvine

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