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UH will not participate in College Board’s ‘Landscape’ program

“Overall, the topic of College Board’s adversity score is not relevant to our institution at this time,” said Maxwell. | Lino Sandil/The Cougar

The University believes it has a handle on diversity without using the College Board’s doomed “adversity score,” which would have tried to put a number on students’ backgrounds.

The College Board’s adversity score was intended to contextualize a student’s performance on the SAT, as it was introduced as part of the Environmental Context Dashboard. The score was supposed to help people in admissions offices at colleges understand each applicant’s socioeconomic background along with their SAT score, but it did not factor in race, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Executive Director of Admissions Mardell Maxwell said that UH was not involved in the pilot program of the College Board’s adversity score in any way.

“Overall, the topic of College Board’s adversity score is not relevant to our institution at this time,” said Maxwell. “The persistence of our students is important, and we are able to identify such resiliency without College Board’s adversity score.”

A program called Landscape has now replaced the score. Landscape is supposed to provide a more telling background for the applicants. Many admissions officers at colleges have involved this program into their process, but not the University. The University does not contribute to the Landscape program either.

Maxwell states that at this time, the University continues to welcome a record number of freshman students. For the first time in the University’s history more than 5,600 new freshmen were admitted this year.

The pilot program of the adversity score faced backlash and criticism, according to The Chronicle. Some critiques, including one from public-education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing Robert A. Schaeffer, who said that it was a “simplistic score” that fell short.

“At this time, we are pleased with our ability to identify students’ ability to academically and socially succeed at UH based on test scores, class rank, grade point average, letters of recommendation and evaluating applicants’ involvement in high school,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell also said that the University ethnic diversity remains among the best in the nation.

David Coleman, the College Board’s chief executive, said to The Chronicle how this particular topic applies to the new Landscape program.

Some admissions officers claimed that it helped them diversify their enrollment. Others said that it could oversimplify student’s experiences and cause them to face more bias.

“Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information,” Coleman told The Chronicle. “So they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”

The University is one of the most diverse campuses in the nation and is currently tied for fifth place according to U.S. News and World Report.

“While we still have room to improve,” Maxwell said, “I have great confidence in our current practices.”

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