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College Board Drops Plans for SAT “Adversity Score” After Criticism

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  • The College Board is dropping its “adversity score,” which gave SAT test-takers a single score that captured their social and economic backgrounds.
  • Many were concerned about how the information was calculated and upset about the fact that students were unable to view their score.
  • The plan is now being replaced with a new system called Landscape, which still records factors about a student’s background but will not give a numerical score or keep the information from students.

What is an Adversity Score?

The College Board announced Tuesday that it is dropping its plan to give SAT test-takers an “adversity score” that measures a student’s socioeconomic hardship.

Prevous coverage on college admissions scandal.

The reversal comes after much backlash from university officials and parents, and amid scrutiny over the role wealth plays in the college acceptance process after the massive college admissions scandal exposed earlier this year. 

The original tool, called the “environmental context dashboard,” was announced in May and was intended to asses the kind of background a student came from based on about 15 different factors, including neighborhood crime rates, family income, what percentage of students receive free or reduced meals in a community, and more. 

All of those metrics were then used to create one score on a scale of 1 to 100 called an “adversity score,” with a score of 50 considered average, and numbers above 50 indicating more hardship.

Previous coverage

Considering a student’s socioeconomic background in this way was introduced as an effort to allow colleges to view a student’s SAT results in the context of the conditions of where that student lives and learns. Many viewed the plan as the College Board acknowledging the long-running criticism of using grades and tests alone in admissions, without considering unequal access to advanced coursework, high priced tutors and prep classes, or other advantages. 

The idea with this new plan was that if a student had overcome major economic challenges to earn their score, that information should be known by admissions officials. David Coleman, chief executive officer of the College Board, told CNN in May the score would better capture student’s “resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less.”

Fifty colleges used the adversity score last year as part of a beta test. The College Board had planned to expand it to 150 institutions this fall, and then use it broadly the following year. The score did not take a student’s race into account, but during the pilot testing, data results showed that the tool boosted nonwhite enrollment. 

Many of the scores critics were concerned about how the information was calculated and were also uncomfortable with the fact that the score could not be viewed by students and families.

But now Coleman says that compiling all of that information down to just one number is problematic. 

New System

“The idea of a single score was confusing because it seemed that all of a sudden the College Board was trying to score adversity. That’s not the College Board’s mission,” Coleman said. “The College Board scores achievement, not adversity.”

Instead, the College Board says it has revised the tool, which has been renamed Landscape. This new system will still provide admissions officials with information about a student’s background. However, Colemen says these data points will not be given a score and they will be made available to students and families.

“Within a year, we’ll be able for every family and student, on their College Board account, to show them their neighborhood and school information transparently,” he said.

The College Board says it will record general data about a student’s high school, including locale, senior class size, percentage of students eligible for free or reduced lunch, average SAT scores, and AP participation and performance. They will also provide colleges with data about a student’s neighborhood and school based on six key factors. Those factors are college attendance, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels, and crime rates. 

College officials will each be able to view that information, along with SAT scores, and perform their own analysis. “We’ll leave the interpretation to the admission’s officer,” Coleman said. “In other words, we’re leaving a lot more room for judgment.”

On its website’s FAQ section, the College Board says this new system, “simply helps admissions officers better understand the high schools and neighborhoods applicants come from. It does not help them understand an applicant’s individual circumstances—their personal stories, hardships, or home life.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, this is now the second time the College Board has walked back on efforts to collect information on a students’ social and economic backgrounds. It dropped a similar effort called Stivers 20 years ago amid pushback from colleges, though critics say the “adversity score” system relied on better research and did not include race.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Wall Street Journal) (Fox News)


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New COVID-19 Variant Could Become Dominant in the U.S. by March, CDC Warns

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  • The CDC warned Friday that a new highly transmissible COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.
  • The strain was first reported in the United Kingdom in December and is now in at least 10 states.
  • The CDC used a modeled trajectory to discover how quickly the variant could spread in the U.S. and said that this could threaten the country’s already overwhelmed healthcare system.

CDC Issues Warning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Friday that the new COVID-19 variant could become the predominant variant in the United States by March.

While it is not known to be more deadly, it does spread at a higher rate, which is troubling considering the condition the U.S. is already in. Cases and deaths are already on the rise in nearly every state and globally, 2 million lives have been lost to the coronavirus. 

The variant was first reported in the United Kingdom in mid-December. It is now in 30 countries, including the U.S., where cases have been located in at least ten states. Right now, only 76 cases of this variant have been confirmed in the U.S., but experts believe that number is likely much higher and said it will increase significantly in the coming weeks. It is already a dominant strain in parts of the U.K.

Modeled trajectory shows that growth in the U.S. could be so fast that it dominates U.S. cases just three months into the new year. This could pose a huge threat to our already strained healthcare system.

Mitigating Spread of Variant

“I want to stress that we are deeply concerned that this strain is more transmissible and can accelerate outbreaks in the U.S. in the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jay Butler, deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC told the New York Times. “We’re sounding the alarm and urging people to realize the pandemic is not over and in no way is it time to throw in the towel.”

The CDC advises that health officials use this time to limit spread and increase vaccination as much as possible in order to mitigate the impact this variant will have. Experts believe that current vaccines will protect against this strain.

“Effective public health measures, including vaccination, physical distancing, use of masks, hand hygiene, and isolation and quarantine, will be essential,” the CDC said in their report.

“Strategic testing of persons without symptoms but at higher risk of infection, such as those exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or who have frequent unavoidable contact with the public, provides another opportunity to limit ongoing spread.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (New York Times) (NBC News)

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Former Michigan Gov. and 8 Others Charged Over Flint Water Crisis

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. (Al Goldis/AP)

  • Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder was charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty Wednesday for his role in the Flint water crisis
  • By Thursday, eight more former state and city officials were charged with crimes ranging from involuntary manslaughter to extortion.
  • Flint residents have long awaited this news. In 2019, prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against 15 officials and said they would start the investigation from scratch, citing concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

Rick Snyder Charges

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office said Thursday that it had filed 41 charges against nine former state and city officials for their role in the Flint water crisis.

The most high-profile figure to be charged was former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. On Wednesday, he was hit with two counts of willful neglect of duty.

He was the state’s top executive when local officials decided to switch the city’s drinking water source to the Flint River in 2014.

The switch was supposed to be a temporary cost-saving measure while a pipeline was being built to Lake Huron. However, the water wasn’t treated properly for corrosion, so lead-contaminated water was released into the homes of people all over the city. Because of that, 12 people died and at least 90 were sickened with Legionnaires’ disease.

Snyder appeared in court this morning via Zoom, pleading not guilty to the two misdemeanor charges. If convicted he could face up to a year in prison and as much as a $1,000 fine.

His charges alone are significant because they make him the first governor or former governor in the state to ever be charged with a crime for alleged conduct while in office.

8 Others Charged

Along with Snyder, eight others were charged, including a former state health director Nick Lyon. Lyon received nine charges of involuntary manslaughter, among others.

Richard Baird, one of Snyder’s closes advisors was changed for extortion, perjury, and obstructions of justice. Others who were charged include:

  • Jarrod Agen, Snyder’s former chief of staff and Vice President Mike Pence’s former communications director.
  • Dr. Eden Wells, a former chief medical executive for the state Department of Health and Human Services. 
  • Darnell Earley, former Flint finance director and state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Gerald Ambrose, former state-appointed emergency manager.
  • Howard Croft, former Flint Public Works Director.
  • Nancy Peeler, the state’s director of maternal, infant and early childhood home visiting for the health department.

Flint residents have waited a long time for justice over the water contamination issue. Prosecutors previously dropped all 15 criminal charges tied to the Flint case in 2019 and said the investigation would begin again from scratch.

At the time, they cited concerns about how the special counsel had conducted its probe.

It also wasn’t until last year that the state reached a $600 million settlement with victims, establishing a fund from which residents can file for compensation.

See what others are saying: (NPR) (The Detroit News) (Detroit Free Press)

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Three Lawmakers Test Positive for COVID-19 Following Capitol Attack

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  • At least three Congressmembers have tested positive for COVID-19 following Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 
  • Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) believe they contracted the virus after locking down in close quarters with numerous Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks.
  • Jayapal and Schneider are calling for those who did not wear a mask to face consequences.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman Tests Positive

At least three members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19 after locking down in close quarters with other House members during Wednesday’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol. 

Congress’ attending physician, Brian Monahan, warned that members may have been exposed during the lockdown. He recommended that everyone who was isolated inside should get tested for the virus. 

On Monday Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) became the first to announce that she tested positive. Watson Coleman believes she was exposed while in the Capitol lockdown. In her statement, she cited the multiple Republicans who refused to wear masks while inside. Video footage from Punchbowl News shows a Democratic lawmaker handing out masks and a handful of Republicans declining to take one. 

Watson Coleman is a 75-year-old lung cancer survivor. While she said she is only experiencing cold-like symptoms, she tweeted that per a doctor’s suggestion, she headed to a local hospital for antibody treatment. She also encouraged those who sheltered in place to get tested. 

More Cases Follow

Later on Monday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said she too had tested positive, also blaming a lack of mask-wearing in the Capitol. In a lengthy Twitter thread, she said Republicans created a superspreader event and demanded consequences for their actions. 

Many Republicans still refused to take the bare minimum COVID-19 precaution and simply wear a damn mask in a crowded room during a pandemic—creating a superspreader event ON TOP of a domestic terrorist attack,” she wrote. 

“Any Member who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable,” Jayapal added. 

“I’m calling for every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol to be fined and removed from the floor by the Sergeant at Arms.”

Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) echoed her frustrations on Tuesday after releasing a statement saying he has become the third House member to have tested positive following the lockdown. 

“Today, I am now in strict isolation, worried that I have risked my wife’s health and angry at the selfishness and arrogance of the anti-maskers who put their own contempt and disregard for decency ahead of the health and safety of their colleagues and our staff,” he wrote.

Like Jayapal, he is calling for sanctions against those who opted to not wear masks. 

Many health officials feared that this lockdown could lead to a surge in cases. They also worry that the mob itself could lead to a superspreader event as most of those who attacked the Capitol were not wearing masks and were crowding together both inside and outside of the building.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (NBC Chicago)

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