I probably read about this in the WSJ article, but when I went back to look at it they threw a soft paywall at me, so I’ll link the CNN article instead. That’s a fairly good that’s pretty neutral and reasonably short.
While it did immediately raise some concerns, I understand what they are trying to show and don’t exactly disagree with it. The purpose seems to be to highlight above average students with adverse backgrounds because they had shown promise in spite of the lack of resources. The idea is that these are among the most exceptional students and when given better opportunities will far exceed the “standard.”
On the surface at least, it makes sense anyway. The people who persevere in the face of adversity do generally seem to have better outcomes. In a way, though, that’s the survivorship bias at work though. We get to see and hear about the people who pushed through and “made it,” but how many do we not hear about. What happened to them? Did they turn out better, worse, or the same for all the extra effort? Of course, this is a great opportunity to study that sort of thing and find out.
There are some underlying problems as well, though. I was immediately reminded of the kind of treatment Russian people received following the Soviet communist revolution. People who had parents from a working-class background, factory workers and the like, received more food, better education, and other benefits. Meanwhile, those from even a slightly upper-middle class background received nothing because “they already had the means.” It’s a dangerous idea, though a bit of a slippery slope argument at the moment.
It’s also been stated that this score will be withheld from the students and only visible to colleges. I… don’t like that. I think the lack of transparency makes it even more dangerous. For something as extraordinarily critical to your fresh high school student as an SAT score, used to make important choices, visibility of their situation provides much better guidance.
Of course, I’m sure they’re trying to cut down on people gaming the system. People from X neighborhood get a better score so we should live there. People with Y skin color are getting better scores, “it’s not fair.” “If I get a better job it will hurt my children’s chances.”
I can see how it would easily lead to some groups being subjected to ridicule, much the same way people react to affirmative action, and the strategically minded making sub-optimal life choices in order to get their child an edge. Without transparency though, it’s just as prone to administrative exploitation. The more I think about it the more ways I can think of for the people with the means, the ones that would have low scores, to bend the rules and snag a “better” score.
Having parents from a wealthier background can be a significant advantage in life. Trying to correct that “unfairness” administratively seems complicated and dangerous.
Y’all stay safe, and watch out for those invisible test scores.
“It’s the government, Hank! They’re coming to get me!” – Dale Gribble, probably.