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College Board Drops Plans for SAT Student Adversity Score (wsj.com)
93 points by big_chungus 50 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments



Quoting from the article:

"Instead, it will try to capture a student’s social and economic background in a broad array of data points. The new tactic is called Landscape and doesn’t combine the metrics into a single score."

So they didn't really drop it. They just revised it a bit and gave it a new name.


> They just revised it a bit and gave it a new name.

Asians are a minority but out-score whites. So, if you were responsible for assigning an adversity score:

1. Would you say that Asians should get a lower score (since they tend to do better) or a higher score (since they're a minority)?

2. How much of an income difference between an Asian student's family and a white student's family to result in the same score?

If you choose to penalize Asian individuals for their racial group doing better on average, how could you justify this to Asians who feel discriminated against? What would you say when they point out that you're penalizing them compared to white people despite being historically discriminated against?

If you choose to penalize white individuals despite their racial group doing poorer on average, how could you justify this to whites who feel discriminated against? What would you say when they point out that your system increases, rather than decreases, racial gaps in colleges?

To be clear, I agree with you -- this revised system has many of the same problems as the original proposal. But, now some of these tough questions aren't on their shoulders.


I have said this for years. Asians, particularly Asian males, are the only racial group in America subject to overt policies meant to disadvantage them on the basis of their race, and nobody cares. Asian immigrants to the US tend to embody more than any ethnic group precisely the characteristics that are supposed to constitute America. Meanwhile we're playing games of trying to tease out how implicit bias might be impacting XYZ, or taking population outcomes as evidence of systemic bias impacting other groups, when disadvantages put on Asian individuals are explicitly laid out as systemic and on the basis of their race.


Meh. Happens to us white males too. Adversity makes us stronger or something.


I recall the pleasure of riding a slow, long school bus meandering around the city for 3 hours a day for 4 school years because there were "too many whites/Asians" at a school on the same block where I lived. Gotta love bureaucratically-proscribed "equality of outcome" policies foisting inequity of treatment externalities onto individuals based on their race. Definitely not racism, because racism can't happen to white males due to the celebration of the hierarchy of victimhood, right?


> Asian males, are the only racial group in America subject to overt policies meant to disadvantage them on the basis of their race

I'd recommend reading The Color of Law, https://www.epi.org/publication/the-color-of-law-a-forgotten...


Redlining has been illegal for 50 years. I'm aware of historical policies.


And those people who were affected by it are still alive and still living in its shadow. The damage has already been done and it's going to take more than one generation before its affects start to fade.


Where did I make the claim that people's circumstances today would be unaffected by history?


here's a more recent example than redlining https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/09/us/sausalito-school-segre...


> A California school district outside of San Francisco agreed to desegregate its schools on Friday, after a two-year state investigation found that the district had “knowingly and intentionally maintained and exacerbated” racial segregation and even established an intentionally segregated school.

> In the Sausalito case, the state said the district had violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

> The settlement, filed in state court in San Francisco...

Sounds like it was (a) not overt (if it took a two-year investigation to establish it), (b) illegal, and (c) eventually punished under preexisting law.


> and (c) eventually punished under preexisting law. While I agree with you on this point, punishment does not mean repair or restore, which is the sad part.

Prevention, through detection (which goes to your point of "(a) not overt (if it took a two-year investigation to establish it)" seems like the better thing for these sorts of circumstances, but is a lot more difficult to achieve. Part of me, possibly naively, believes that transparency is the answer, so that those of us who care can determine things without a 2 year investigation, but that feels... too simplistic. Not sure what a better answer is, though.


If blatant is not overt in this context then I'm curious what the overt discrimination against asian males is?


That's not the only subject of the book


I’m an Asian male. How exactly has it disadvantaged you?


I think you should maybe re-read what I wrote.


It was pretty clear.

> when disadvantages put on Asian individuals are explicitly laid out as systemic and on the basis of their race.

What exactly have I been disadvantaged in?


Oh, you assumed I was Asian. Now I understand your original post.

The areas Asians are disadvantaged in are college admissions and hiring practices. There is an active lawsuit against YouTube for issuing freezes on hiring white and Asian males, on the premise that they needed to hire more people from other racial/ethnic groups. This is simply not something that would happen to another minority group. The people that tend to otherwise fixate on racial identity and collective privilege will typically also conveniently ignore Asians, whose successes in this "white supremacist" nation throw a bit of a wrench in their world view.


> There is an active lawsuit against YouTube for issuing freezes on hiring white and Asian males, on the premise that they needed to hire more people from other racial/ethnic groups.

I've interviewed with Google multiple times without issue

> whose successes in this "white supremacist" nation throw a bit of a wrench in their world view.

Interesting that you should mention that, because perceived/actual white supremacy is a reason why Asians are voting overwhelmingly against Republicans today.


"Asian" in American lingo usually doesn't include Indians. It's basically Chinese/Japanese/Korean.


Since race is merely a social construct with no consistent objective basis, smart applicants should check whichever box gives them the most bonus points at that particular school. It's not lying. Or if they're uncomfortable with that, just leave it blank.


Interestingly I've seen the question often as "which do you identify as", which you can definitely lie on. If I said something like "Asian" instead of "Caucasian" it would definitely be lying because I don't actually identify as Asian.


> If I said something like "Asian" instead of "Caucasian" it would definitely be lying because I don't actually identify as Asian.

What if you did that day? Is there a need for a long term self-identification to qualify as the minority of your choosing?


Identity is more than just saying you are an identity, it's a reflection of how you actually see yourself.

If you actually see yourself differently then you can actually change what you identify as.

This means you need to actually see yourself differently to not be lying and you can't just pick and choose based on a whim. For example I'm a huge nerd and even if I tell people I don't identify as one it doesn't change how I see myself so it's just a lie. Though as time goes on I'm doing less and less nerdy hobbies so I feel less a part of that group so in the future I might not feel like a nerd at all so if I say I don't identify as a nerd then I'm telling the truth. Doing what you are saying requires being able to actually believe you are part of those different groups.


Define your terms. How does one differentiate between a whim versus a deeply held belief? Is there a time limit involved? Some objective measure of sincerity?

"It's not a lie if you believe it."

- George Constanza


The question as commonly understood is asking about your family geographical/cultural heritage. Your family heritage is constant. So unless new information has come to light recently or you're really confused about your heritage, I don't think it makes sense to be changing your ethnicity/race on a daily basis.

One could feel Asian because you're in a Chinese immersion program speaking Chinese 24/7, but if you don't have any ancestors from Asia more recent than Ghengis Khan, you can't really self-identify as Asian for the purposes of the question as commonly understood. It's not like one's family heritage changes if one's circumstances change.


There is no such common understanding. Everyone has their own subjective understanding of such questions. Who are we to judge whether they're right or wrong.

Please justify your assertion that self identification of being Asian should be cut off based on ancestry at 1227. It seems awfully arbitrary. Do you actually have a logical reason for picking that year, or are you just making things up to suit your own preferences?


Language is common understanding (within boundaries). Sure, there is subjective understanding, but only to a point. As I understand it, the concept of ancestry in English implies a certain immutability. You can't be Asian today and African tomorrow. You can't identify as Eskimo one day and Pacific Islander the next (barring a rather unusual situation). You can't change identity like clothes. There are words for people who do that, though, "actor" being the kindest. If you want to redefine the meanings of these terms, fine, but then we're no longer using the same words, even if the syllables happen to sound the same.

I never said 1227 and don't know why you are picking that year. I picked Genghis Khan because supposedly most everyone has some of his genes.


> Interestingly I've seen the question often as "which do you identify as",

Self-identification is a weird metric. I mean, I'm pretty sure bigotry's about how others see a person rather than how a person sees themself.


Yeah but those generally align and it's not like you can just poll a bunch of people they have known. If you have a better way to practically do it for people I would be interested


Well it isn't lying in the sense that it adheres to the currently popular concept that everything is subjective. I really like this response since it forces the question "Are there valid categories of people yes or no?".


Why do we need to penalize or give special treatment based on race? Why is race even a metric?


Because they understand that many students are disadvantaged or advantaged based on race. Affirmative action is meant to counter that.


What about measuring wealth and education quality instead of race? If I'm a rich black/latino I have more advantages than a poor Asian/White/Jew student.

By the way, I know it shouldn't matter but I'm latino (Dominican). Looks like nowadays you have to have an specific race to have an opinion.


It's not a single axis of (dis-)advantage. A wealthy black person in America has economic advantages over a poor white student, yes. But the black student will have disadvantages based on their skin color that a white student wouldn't have. There are a lot of people advocating for entirely replacing race-based affirmative action with economic/wealth-based weighting but they're not mutually exclusive.


I would argue that wealth is significantly more important than color of skin.


Yes race matters. But your social class and financial means matter far more in most casss.


Policies like these based on race are precisely why students are disadvantaged by race.

We must stop looking at arbitrary and superficial physical attributes to determine a person's character if we are to ever get past all of this racial nonsense.


Wouldn't parents income be a good proxy for a disadvantaged background for college education purposes?


This unfairly penalizes students whose parents recently came into money. Early education is important, and it is unfortunately often the case that parents who work hard to become successful financially don't have as much time and energy to put into their children. Such children may be disadvantaged during critical years and now have the additional challenge of being penalized for their parents now being wealthy.


So the parents could provide N years of tax records showing they recently got money.


That sounds pretty racist to me. Basically saying that any race they give the upper hand to is poor in their eyes.


There is clear discrimination in the world. If you were a black person in my southern state, where the schools were worse in minority (usually the same as poorer) areas, the treatment from the police is worse, when you go for a job in high school they won't hire you to be in a front facing job like a waiter because you are black, you would see it. So what do we do, ignore it, because some white guy gets their feelings hurt that we try to give these people help? We need to help them. If you argue we don't need to, then it just seems heartless, and probably you are in a position where this is invisible to you.

This is a really difficult problem, trying to help increase opportunity. We run into reverse racism of a kind, with today's "too many qualified Asians" (because they are good students) in Harvard problem where they are trying for a diverse student body, but what does diverse really mean? Before this there was similar descriptions of too many Jewish people at colleges (in the 1950s I have read). No one ever wanted more of my kind of person either (white guy, a single parent but middle class) in my whole career and life - yet I should also state most of my coworkers my whole life in tech have mostly been middle class white guys. My parents were not about to be able to donate a million bucks to Harvard so I could go, they didn't go there, and neither did I. If Harvard allowed the best prepared students to go there, then there would be more rich legacy white kids and more Asians.


Because they are standardizing scores for "intelligence" and performance so adversity related to race puts some people at a disadvantage.


Well, because on average, Asians are more intelligent then whites, who are in turn more intelligent then blacks.

So, for example, when NYC has special schools for the smartest minority of students, these schools end up with mostly Asians and whites.[1] This is racist.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/26/nyregion/gifted-programs-...


How is it racist? The school is for the most intelligent/academically proficient students or whatever its criteria is, and that's how the select them. If that subset of the population is, for argument, 99% white and Asian, it would be suspect if the school was anything but 99% those two. It doesn't matter that the population of the country as a whole is not.


I think you mean "than", not "then". "than" is the word that fits in those phrases.


You are correct! Then = time, than = comparison.

Maybe that is why I got downvoted. ;-)


* more intelligent based on available but extremely fallible metrics


It was an adversity score, not a diversity score.


It is about equal opportunity, not equal outcome


Well, no, and here is the Crux of the issue with affirmative action, and possibly one of the strongest base drivers of the cleavage between the American left approach to race and equality, and the American right approach to the same.

These policies attempt to achieve equality of outcome based on the implicit presumption that given equality of opportunity outcomes will be equal among various demographics. Thus any systematic inequalities are, without much in the way of hard evidence (a limitation of the related fields of psychology, economics, and the like) immediately explained by uncompetitive social norms of successful groups, i.e. racism/discrimination - unlocking the justification for penalizing those on top to equalize outcomes for those on the bottom.

The result of this implicit and fundamentally unproven assumption is the conflation of equality of outcome with equality of opportunity by the modern American left. This is a point of consternation for those near the center and leaning right primarily because it punishes success without allowing for the possibility of personal/internal explanations for discrepancies, i.e. cultural factors independent of poverty which limit economic success, and/or things like proven heritability of intelligence. Further, one could argue that such a conflation optimizes economic equality over merit, which is probably worse for society overall.


When you allow the most competent people to rise to positions fitting their competence, they can create wealth for everyone.


They can do whatever they want to do and can get away with.


That's not how diversity success metrics are reported though. It's said to be a travesty if half the number of women as men choose a STEM major


> They just revised it a bit and gave it a new name

I don’t think that’s fair. Saying “this student is from a 6th decile income and 9th decile funding school district” is different from combining those data into a single measure. The former presents information. The latter analyses it.


True, but choosing which stats to include in the presentation is also in itself a form of analysis.


> choosing which stats to include in the presentation is also in itself a form of analysis

Agreed. But it’s less reductive than a private company deciding on its own what does and doesn’t constitute adversity (and to what degree).


Part of the concern was that they were claiming, by putting them into a single "adversity score," that they could somehow claim to measure a student's adversity with absolutely zero opportunity for the student to present evidence to challenge the broad social inferences College Board planned to make from low-resolution school and neighborhood level data.

I definitely don't like them making these kind of files on students and I think they should be required to get informed consent from the students--the data subjects--to do so, especially since students are the customers and pay for the tests. However, I do think there is some real improvement in acknowledging that this is a limited metric and no longer claiming that it somehow represents a comprehensive score.


I'd bet money those college entrance consultants are happy about another metric they could hack and exploit for personal gain.

People are already giving up guardianship of their kids to get into schools: https://www.npr.org/2019/07/30/746687110/some-parents-are-gi...

Since it can't be based on a thorough review of data and people's actual background for scaling reasons, it's all going to be about the initial presentation and gaming the system will continue to increase the more entrance is disconnected from academic ability.

Hopefully the end result is less companies blindly hiring people based on their university degree, which is already happening, but there will always be perks from the name recognition alone regardless which is what I guess people are betting on when they are trying to tip the scales.


The perfect solution to that is github and fizzbuzz (perhaps something bit harder).

Non-programming job are going to shrink soon enough, there won't be anyone hiring 'blindly' in those field, or largely at all.


So they change the person who is their guardian before they reach the age of majority, and this does permanently change the persons who are used to calculate the expected family contribution? The article is a bit unclear.


> The new tactic is called Landscape

That's some real Newspeak right there.


It's still a huge improvement (not that this is good, just that a single metric for adversity is completely ridiculous).


Some would argue that any metric for adversity is inherently unfair. Probably the best example to support this view is that of a student with hidden adversity, e.g. abusive parent or unreported learning disability that had to be overcome, despite being an "advantaged" ethnicity and living in an affluent suburb.


Agreed. I really don't believe the College Board can gain an accurate picture of whatever adversity their test takers have faced based off of the data they collect.


Of course not. It's always going to be shot in the dark, they'll have to put a ton of trust in the information put in front of them.

They aren't going out in the field to interview friends and family.

A single nice family home in the suburbs could have one kid turn out to be a successful judge and the other a drug addict drop-out (even Trump's older brother died an alcoholic). Good luck measuring that honestly from a college entrance office.


Do you believe that the consumers of the "landscape" scores won't sum those values up or apply some substantially similar reduction?


> a single metric for adversity is completely ridiculous

What about a single metric for scholastic aptitude, though? :)


Colleges probably place too much weight on, say, the SAT (which is, I presume, that to which you are referring), but they still use more. Years of report cards, letters of recommendation, extracurriculars, essays, AP exams, SAT subject tests, ACT, personal interviews, "soft factors", and other things that aren't disclosed. I agree it's certainly not perfect, and think it needs improvement, but personally can't think of a way to easily filter the huge numbers of applicants without quantifiable metrics.


The goal is to perform action selection. No matter how many metrics you come up with, you have to aggregate them into a single score to rank the set of possible actions. The fact that producing such a score is preposterous is merely an indication the whole idea of adversity metric[s] for deciding the future of our children is morally and functionally bereft.

The change moves the onus of metric aggregation from the College Board to individual colleges. We'll institutionalize injustice / poor decision making, but you'll have a choice of which institution will apply the injustice.

Blind admissions. We may even incentivize kids to actually study for college, instead of waltzing in with a seventh grade reading level. If we don't like that recent immigrants outperform natives [of all colors!], perhaps we could perform a serious root cause analysis and address it, instead of papering over the metrics.

https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=6174: The average college freshman reads at 7th grade level


Under the old score system, all students in the US could sue College Board for discrimination in a legally unsettled area (as evidenced by the Harvard lawsuit). Under the Landscape system, students will have to sue each college separately.


"The College Board, the New York-based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried about income inequality influencing test results for year"

If only these systems in place focused on this rather than race. I know race in the USA correlates strongly with socioeconomic status and outcomes, but its turned out to be such a divisive issue that consistently antagonizes stakeholders and leads to controversial policy decisions.

Sure poverty disproportionately affects some ethnic groups more than others, but it nonetheless has pervasive effects on the health and economic outcomes of people of all races. Hopefully the next system to replace the last takes into account the economic handicaps of students and not their race.


That some ethnic groups disproportionally are more likely to suffer from poverty is caused by racism. It’s not possible to fix that problem without addressing racism. Yes, not all poverty is caused by racism, but some clearly is. So if you’re starting from the position of not addressing racism, you’re limiting what you can accomplish.


Acting to provide equitable access to education is an inherently economic intervention. I'm not sure what outcome other than economic you would expect from College Board activity.


I can agree with you that it might be a more productive fast way to fix some of the issues, but the fact is that racism still affects even the well-off people of color. Maternal deaths related to birth are a recently studied example, as is upward/downward social mobility among the well-off.


Such studies aren't capable of determining that "racism" is the cause.


What else could be a cause?


This is a very divisive topic, for which we have strong cultural taboos and entrenched polarisation. I have yet to see shared explorations in search for the truth, where points from both sides of the debate are treated as coming from a place of good intentions. Every mistake, and there will be mistakes, genuine or perceived, will likely be exploited at the maximum, and possibly will devolve in invectives or worse. Furthermore, it is a complex topic where there may be a superposition of many causes, and teasing out the causes and their respective relative weights, by necessity, will be beyond what HN format can possibly support.

Case in point, "racism". Implying, among other things, KKK and lynchings. Would you submit that the root cause for differentials in college-level education attainment in 2019 between racial groups is endemic lynchings? If not, I would kindly submit that we need a different word to start a conversation.

Edit: Small rephrase to hopefully address u/krastanov concerns.


I completely agreed with you until you wrote:

> Case in point, "racism". Implying KKK and lynchings.

Is there really a group of people that participate in intellectually honest debates that actually think the use of the word "racism" in 2019 implies "KKK and lynching"!? This sounds incredibly out of proportion to me - yes, KKK/lynching are near one of the extremes of the spectrum of racism, but it is (or used to be) incredibly far from the main realization of racism today.


While I very much disagree with that idea because it has been disproven plenty of times, the usual "not racism" explanation that people suggest is some inherent difference between ethnicities unrelated to historical subjugation or current policies. At this point I take the proponents of such "not racism" explanations as willfully ignorant implicit racists at best.


"If you don't agree with me, you're a willfully ignorant implicit racist."

Not a productive remark; painting all who disagree with you as "racists" devalues the legitimate use of the term and prevents honest discourse.


You are starting with your conclusion already in mind.


The inverse of poor immigrants' children having great upwards mobility. More people being in a high income bracket because of circumstance, without repeatable performance in the next generation. You'll see the same thing with the demographic of bitcoin millionaires.

In the case of maternal deaths, obviously obesity, diet, drug use, etc, are variables. And simple biological propensity to survive childbirth. And the physiology of Africans, let alone the complexities of X% African + (100-X)% Anglo physiology, being harder to deal with.


What studies attribute racial differences in maternal mortality to racism?


One caveat: It is unlikely that you can min/max more than one variable in a system at once with a single pertubation.

As an example: Say you are trying to give out bank loans to white and black people, and to men and women. You have a metric that you give loans out: namley their credit score. You are not guaranteed to be able to give out bank loans to all people fairly. Say that black women, via the randomness of life, have lower credit scores than white women. So, because you give out loans via credit scores, you disadvantage black women. This is not okay. So, you then include some factor in the bank loaning process that accounts for that the race of the person applying for the loan. This then corrects the racial disparity in the loans to balck and whote women. However, what did you do to the rates of applications to black men and white men? Your new metrics have likely affected those rates, maybe negatively affecting women as a whole as comapred to men. Maybe it results in lowered rates to black men as comapred to white men. Who knows. You repeat this process of sdjustment until all loans are given out fairly. Then you look at what was done to Native American populations, homosexuals, asians, poor people, etc.

I'm not saying that you are forbidden from being able to iteratively get to fairness in bank loans, but a single rule change is very unlikely to result in total fairness amoung all possible divisions of people. Additionally, to get to fairness in all bank loans, the rule set is likely to be somewhat complex [0] and then it'll have to change with time.

[0] The handshake problem maybe? n(n-1)/2 complexity? With just 7 racial categories alone you get 21 total interactions that need to be adjusted for, Add in 3 gender categories and you then have 210 interactions. Now put in 4 monetary classes, you get 3486 interactions to deal with. Now add in pregnant people, veterans, the disabled, political views, religious groups, etc. It roughly grows as N^2 and gets hairy really quick.


I think I’m well within the minority here, but I am Conservative and support this initiative. I support it mostly because I’d prefer a transparent system used widely to a bunch of different opaque systems at all the various universities. I also ascribe to the belief that someone who is exceptional in an area where the average may be below proficient is truly exceptional. That being said I want to work to the ideal that something like this won’t be necessary in the future of zip code does not determine outcome.


It would only be transparent if admissions were decided by an algorithm based on inputs. With these data from College Boards, you get no transparency: the schools are still allowed to do whatever they want, and now they get extra data for a posteriori justification of their decision.


Why shouldn’t the schools do what they want? Nobody is entitled to go to the school they want to go to.


How transparent is it, when the test-takers can't obtain or review their own information, or opt out of participating in this scheme?


Well, I think you're dreaming if you don't think this transparent score will just be combined with the different opaque systems already in place.


Everyone would game being disadvantaged and purposely be even more of a victim than they are now. Being depressed (true depression is different), victimhood is as cool as being a great athlete, genius etc. in today’s society. Subconsciously people stay in the victim loop due to implicit benefits from their peers.


What are the conservative-friendly mechanisms for ensuring this type of equality across all zip codes?


The problem with diversity programs in education is that they are half baked, if you wanted to truly solve the root causes of racial discrepancies in education you'd need reform at the elementary school level. School districts are too tightly coupled with housing for stakeholders to advocate for reform at that level. If you design programs that try to tackle these discrepancies without aiming at the root cause you get mishaps like this.


> if you wanted to truly solve the root causes of racial discrepancies in education you'd need reform at the elementary school level.

You'd probably also have to reform family life for many individuals as well, not just elementary school. Are they from a single parent household? Do they have books at home? Do their parents read to them? Do their parents help out with homework and make sure their children are doing their homework?

School is not the only aspect contributing to someone's education. Parental involvement is also a huge factor and cultural differences contribute here.

See my previous comment about the importance of culture and values and their impact on success here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20810810


How do you propose to decouple elementary schools and houses? Busing? We saw what kind of a disaster that was [0] [1].

Personally, I think on-line schooling is a better option. Internet is becoming broadly available, and it seems that serving every one the same curriculum (albeit with some adaptivity to what a student is doing better or worse on) seems the most viable way to make sure each student gets the same education, I would think. Then maybe provide a smaller staff at local schools with tutoring and counseling.

Online education does a good job [2], and has had good results, even in the third world [3] [4]. It of course needs further development, but I see no reason why it couldn't be a strong contender to mitigate this issue.

[0]: https://slate.com/human-interest/2014/02/how-the-lefts-embra...

[1]: https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/10/06/496411024/why-bus...

[2]: http://news.mit.edu/2014/study-shows-online-courses-effectiv...

[3]: https://borgenproject.org/online-education-in-developing-cou...

[4]: https://www.onlinecoursereport.com/democratizing-education-o...


Online schooling only works for motivated, disciplined students. Most children need to have a qualified teacher in the same room in order to learn effectively. That especially applies to subjects that students don't enjoy, but which they need to learn in order to function in society.


Maybe the question we ought to be asking, then, is, "Why are our youth not motivated to study?" This seems to be true across all background, excepting one: first-generation Americans. I was certainly motivated to study, even things I didn't like. I knew it was my path to a better life. The "second-generation problem" is well-documented [0], and so the obvious question is: what can we do to inculcate that same motivation in our youth? To make them self-directed? On that, I am not sure.

[0]: https://dyske.com/paper/1258, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2547418


As a teen and kid I had huge self esteem and shyness issues. I’d have basically no friends (at age 18) if I did online school.


How is the Harvard Asian discrimination lawsuit going lately? I haven't heard anything in a while.


>a diverse student body is part of the educational mission of a school.

Why? Why should anyone attempt to intentionally manipulate the ethnic backgrounds of college students? If you award admission bonuses for the symptoms of racism like being worse off financially or going to a poorly-rated high school, wouldn't you be adjusting for adversity in exact proportion to actual hardship instead of assigning an arbitrary value to skin color? This entire process can be completely race-agnostic and still compensate for systemic racism at the same time.

I'm also curious what stops me from putting whatever I want in the race field on my application. I don't recall my university running a blood test to check if I was fibbing.


>Why should anyone attempt to intentionally manipulate the ethnic backgrounds of college students?

Higher education - particularly for elite and Ivy League universities - is best understood more as a finishing school for acculturating youths into upper-middle and upper classes. By admitting a more balanced distribution of ethnic minorities, it allows these institutions to retain the perception of legitimacy for bestowing class status on graduates, rather that being seen as captured by the parents of the class the institution bestows.


>Higher education - particularly for elite and Ivy League universities - is best understood more as a finishing school for acculturating youths into upper-middle and upper classes.

Do you have any kind of reference, or even a decent collection of anecdotes supporting this?


Just look at the "sheepskin effect" (most of benefit of college is in the final degree-granting year) and the representation of Yale, Harvard, and Columbia among Supreme Court Justices (and other elite positions).

Furthermore, the model explains some other behavior, such as colleges attempting limit the number of certain minorities that would otherwise be over-represented based on test scores. Specifically, Harvard's quota on Jewish applicants in 1922 and their current lawsuit alleging anti-asian discrimination.


>If you award admission bonuses for the symptoms of racism like being worse off financially or going to a poorly-rated high school, wouldn't you be adjusting for adversity in exact proportion to actual hardship instead of assigning an arbitrary value to skin color?

Black and Latino students have worse academic outcomes than their peers in the same school and income bracket. Though low quality-of-life metrics may be symptomatic of racism, high quality-of-life metrics do not indicate an absence of racism.


By the same token, there are more causes of worse academic outcomes than only racism, else Asian students wouldn't perform any better than white students, unless one posits that everyone except Asian people are subject to performance-degrading racism, which I do not.


> I'm also curious what stops me from putting whatever i want int he race field on my application.

Nothing, as we found out with Elizabeth Warren being "Indian". As you said, no test. Of course, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable handing my DNA over to every school to which I wanted to apply.


Back in the day, a woman on my dorm floor would check a different box every quarter during registration, just to see what would happen. The main thing that would happen is that one quarter she would get a lot of mailings from the black student organization, and the next quarter a lot of mailings from the Asian student association.

Of course, on an admissions form, a whole different machine kicks in. I think falsifying your admissions form would have consequences.


There are no consequences. What objective criteria could they possibly use to prove you falsified your application?


How do you in most cases prove someone is falsifying what they identify as?


The notoriety of the Warren experience may cause institutions to require more documentation in the future. Then, of course, some applicants may experience the opposite problem: the admissions people won't believe them without DNA evidence, and then we have a Gattacca scenario. (from the movie about people's genomes being used in the hiring process)


The worst part about this is that the information will doubtless go to a testing facility, and from there will probably end up in the hands of some federal three-letter agency. It's already happened: https://www.wsj.com/articles/customers-handed-over-their-dna...

As more things require it, it will become unavoidable.

By the way, I hadn't seen that movie. Thanks for mentioning it; looks like it might be good to watch.


Well thought out, well written movie with a beautiful sound track. I highly recommend it! I've just re-watched it for the 3rd or 4th time, and it's held up very well since it came out around '99 or 2000.


I think there are two dimensions (likely correlated)

1. Race.

2. Socioeconomic status.

Callibrating a score on race would be a problem, because you are explicitly reinforcing virtues that lead to suboptimal performance. However calibrating a score on (2) makes sense because kids with unequal resources should have access to the same opportunities, and it is reasonable to me that a top performer in a lower socioeconomic neighborhood would do better than someone who performed similarly were they raised in a more affluent neighborhood.

Where you run into problems is that lower socioeconomic neighborhoods are associated strongly with black/Latino populations and so it is indirectly biasing for select racial groups. I don’t think there’s a perfect solution, or one that is 100% equitable to all parties but I think we can do better than we are now, in fact I think it is crucial.


Where are all the comments about racial diversity coming from? There's a single article mentioning that _using_ race is a contentious issue - not that this score uses race.

Further down in the article, it lists what the scores are based on:

> Those factors are college attendance, household structure, median family income, housing stability, education levels and crime.

Which all sound like tests of the living conditions and environment that the students had to learn within - and if those strongly correlate with race, then maybe there's other issues that need to be addressed


If we allow entry of students from underperforming schools into colleges with historically high academic requirements, one of two things will happen, neither of which are particularly good:

1. These students will struggle and be much more likely to fail out, depending on how much of a boost they're given by the so called adversity score

2. Standards will be lowered and as a result graduates will be less competent and schools lose prestige and/or society suffers in the long run from workers who previously would not have qualified for their degrees.

You cannot undo the damage of 12 years of poor schooling by simply throwing a student into a more rigorous curriculum, no matter how admirable the intent.

And arguably point 2 has already been happening for some time anyway given the swelling of college ranks over the last few years and the corresponding devaluation of the college degree. More people may hold degrees, but the normal distribution of intelligence has not changed, which must indicate that the rigor of the average degree has dropped substantially in the last few decades given the proportion of the population that is now educated.


those aren't the only two possible outcomes. I went to a pretty good state school with pretty generous admissions criteria, but very rigorous coursework. most of the required courses for stem majors started at the 200 level. if you got a "good" highschool education (ie passed calculus) you were expected to start with CS-201. if not, there were lots of gentle 100-level courses to ease you into programming or teach high school math material that you either didn't take or failed. note when I say gentle, I mean the material itself is not difficult. you would be assigned a large quantity of work in every class at every level.

plenty of kids failed out along the way, but it was more because they didn't put in enough time than being hopelessly underprepared for the rigor.

you do kinda have to give up on the "undergrad takes exactly four years" thing if you want this to work though. some people will need to do more than 120 credits to fulfill the requirements of the degree. not everyone will be able to take a full-time course load every semester or even any semester. that doesn't make the end result worse when they finally graduate (though it may be more expensive).


1) Unlikely, because even today the most selective schools that use holistic admission have far higher graduation rates than less selective schools

2) Even if this is true, this is a feature not a bug

As it turns out, college really isn’t all that difficult in most cases, and never has been. If anything standards have increased!


Credit score is a number highly correlated with your social-economic status and race/ethnicity.


We can’t simultaneously be mad at programs like this and also say school doesn’t matter.

Personally I think providing separate scores for adversity is a good thing. Ultimately getting into ones state school isn’t that difficult, and even if it was your SAT is a small part of that.


I would think that by college age, the raw input to the school had better be pretty well-refined and at roughly the same level.

To let people into big-league colleges with any 'fudge factor' isn't doing them any favors. It's just an easy path to failure. (Also: even if the schools provide hand-holding and personal tutoring, the school had better make sure what is provided sticks. Very well. Else they may graduate some 'charity cases', but it won't be doing the graduates any favors when they hit the workforce.)


A large portion of the value of a degree is simply in signaling - it tells potential employers rough information about candidate IQ, conscientiousness, and social capital. Graduating unqualified students is absolutely a favor, and a huge one to boot. The primary people harmed are the other students, who suffer the ill effects of inflation in the value of their degree.


I get the idea that with so many admissions we need some way to "standardize" admissions, but the way we do it is pretty archaic, and definitely doesn't work for a host of different students. Has anyone seen any interesting concepts or ideas around dropping standardized testing in general for something else?


In many countries it goes the other direction: the standardized exams are much harder than the SAT (so you don't have a bunch of people clustering at the top with perfect scores) and are the only metric used for university admissions.


That seems pretty bad too, no? Basing everything off just standardized exams? Are these exams usually/mostly multiple choice?


Why does it seem bad to you? To me it seems like the fairest possible method, as long as the tests are reasonably accurate measures of competence.

The US method on the other hand where colleges try to assess “leadership” and other qualities of that nature makes no sense to me. What in the world do “leadership”, extracurricular activities, sports ability, etc. have to do with academic ability?

I guess it’s because in the US, college is seen as a way of sorting people into social classes, just as much as a place to actually learn something (or more). But a sane system shouldn’t care about having “well-rounded” students — it should optimize for having the best 100 students in physics in the country studying together from the best physicists, the best in history from the best historians, etc.

> Are these exams usually/mostly multiple choice?

No.


Except that having a "failure" of an admissions test is desirable.

Colleges would be far worse off in their current and next round of admissions scandals/lawsuits if the test were as clear as something like the ASVAB (where you score is literally the % of people you've beaten).




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