The Asian American Coalition for Education recently issued an official letter to David Coleman, CEO of the College Board, urging the College Board to halt its hasty proposal of expanding the “S.A.T. Adversity Score” to 150 more colleges nationwide before conducting a thorough review with Asian American communities who has a high stake in this important change. Although AACE wholeheartedly welcomes the College Board’s benign direction of constructing a system of “Adversity Score” in place of racial preferences, we strongly believe that applying the system universally with no transparency and no proven scientific evidence is imprudent and dangerous. If implemented, this practice of social engineering will result in grave harms to Asian-American children who are already punished by racial preferences in college admissions.

After experimenting with an “adversity index” in about 50 U.S. colleges and universities for the last two years, the College Board announced on May 16, 2019 that it will expand the system to about 150 more schools later this year and to all colleges in 2020. Measuring one’s “environmental context,” the “S.A.T. Adversity Score” ranks a student on the scale of 0 to 100 according to his or her disadvantage levels, including factors such as family stability, median family income, housing stability and neighborhood crime. With good intentions, this new system is nonetheless problematic and intrusive for three reasons.

First, the College Board fails to present sufficient evidence to show that the Adversity Score is formulated scientifically and fairly before carrying out the expansion plan.

Second, the Adversity Score should not be used on top of, or in combination with, racial preferences which have been widely implemented in colleges across 42 states. The coupling of these two factors will lead to disastrous consequences for millions of working class Asian-American families who endure tremendous hardships and make great sacrifices to move to good school districts.

Third, if established scientifically, the system should only be applied to a limited population to help children from truly disadvantaged families with inadequate funds or conditions to support their K-12 education. It should not be imposed on the general population as a tool of utopian social engineering to normalize every child’s future.

In the letter, AACE president Yukong Zhao wrote: “While we support initiatives to help the truly disadvantaged children, we strongly oppose the College Board’s irresponsible and precipitous attempt to use the Adversity Score as a tool of social engineering to normalize every American child’s future. We also reject your opaque process that does not allow the students and their families to review their adversity scores.”

Swann Lee,

On behalf of Asian American Coalition for Education

Via E-mail

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