What You Need to Know About the Environmental Context Dashboard
What You Need to Know About the Environmental Context DashboardCollege Board Communications
The Environmental Context Dashboard (ECD) is a new admissions tool that allows colleges to incorporate a student’s school and environmental context into their admissions process in a data-driven, consistent way. The Dashboard includes contextual data on the student’s neighborhood and high school.
Some media reports have referred to an “adversity score.” That term is inaccurate, because that’s not what the Dashboard does. To clarify:
- The Environmental Context Dashboard doesn’t alter a student’s SAT score.
- It does show how a student’s’ SAT score compares to those of other students in their school.
- It doesn’t take into account any personal characteristics of a student beyond the test score.
- It does provide admissions officers with better context about an applicant’s neighborhood and high school.
We want to make sure students, families, educators, and admissions officers have information about what data is included in the Environmental Context Dashboard and where the data comes from. For more details, click here. You can also view an information session about the Environmental Context Dashboard here.
Q: Why can’t students and high schools see ECD results?
We have received questions about whether students and schools can see the content of the Dashboard, and we’re looking into how we might make it available to them. The tool is currently being piloted for use by admissions officers. The Dashboard aggregates publicly available information about schools and neighborhoods. More details can be found here. Again, there is no information specific to individual students, except their SAT score.
Q: How is the Environmental Context Dashboard being used?
This is a tool designed for admissions officers to view a student’s academic accomplishment in the context of where they live and learn. The Dashboard draws from public data sources, including census data and NCES data, as well as College Board data, and presents a unique view of school and neighborhood context for an applicant. The information is not intended to replace or contradict existing information about schools and neighborhoods. We refresh the data underlying the ECD each year so it’s as up to date as possible. Colleges decide how they use the information in the Dashboard to make admission decisions.
Q: Is the ECD going to be included in all SAT scores reports?
The Dashboard doesn’t appear in an SAT score report, and doesn’t change the process for receiving SAT scores or the rest of a student’s college application. The information in the Dashboard appears as a separate component that admissions officers can choose to consider (or not) when they’re reviewing a students’ application.
Q: What if a student only took the ACT? Are they excluded from the ECD?
The ECD accepts both SAT and ACT scores from institutions. If an ACT score is received, it is converted to an SAT score using the concordance tables, and the SAT score is included in the dashboard.
Q: Will the tool be available to all colleges?
In 2018-19 we piloted the Dashboard with more than 50 colleges and universities. This fall we plan to expand to include more than 150 colleges in a research partnership as we continue to shape the tool, and next year we plan to make it broadly available to colleges and universities for free.
Statement from David Coleman, College Board CEO:
Through its history, the College Board has been focused on finding unseen talent. The Environmental Context Dashboard shines a light on students who have demonstrated remarkable resourcefulness to overcome challenges and achieve more with less. It enables colleges to witness the strength of students in a huge swath of America who would otherwise be overlooked.
There is talent and potential waiting to be discovered in every community—the children of poor rural families, kids navigating the challenges of life in the inner city, and military dependents who face the daily difficulties of low income and frequent deployments as part of their family’s service to our country. No single test score should ever be examined without paying attention to this critical context.
We are proud that results from our pilot of the tool show that using the Environment Context Dashboard makes it more likely that students who demonstrate strength and resourcefulness in overcoming challenges are more likely to be admitted to college.
The Environmental Context Dashboard provides contextual information on students attending a particular high school, including that high school’s SAT performance, AP performance, average number of AP courses taken, percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch, etc. and neighborhood information including average family income, familial structure and stability, educational attainment, housing stability, and crime. The Dashboard incorporates College Board data and national data including U.S. Census and NCES. The ECD does not include race.
We’ve piloted the ECD at 50 colleges and universities (including Yale, Florida State, Michigan, and Trinity). Among institutions in the pilot using the Dashboard, application readers reported that:
- Applicants from higher levels of disadvantage were more likely to be admitted, suggesting the additional context influenced admissions outcomes.
- Providing additional contextual information about a student’s SAT score was found to more positively influence admissions decisions when readers were less familiar with the high school, and for students whose academic performance exceeded that of their peers by the widest margins.
- The additional contextual information had a more positive effect at institutions that use more holistic approaches to decision making.
We continue to pilot the tool, and next year we plan to make it broadly available to colleges for free.
Here’s some anecdotal feedback we’ve gotten so far from practitioners:
- “The Dashboard helped us recognize hardworking students who really care about their academics but maybe the school or environment disabled them from being able to fully thrive as a student.”
- “By having more data like the kinds of things presented in the Dashboard, I think it allowed us to rely less on stereotypes, assumptions, or incomplete data and more on hard facts and statistics.”
- “For some admissions offices, the tool was most useful for borderline acceptances and students who went to committee. For others, it was valuable for students from nonfeeder high schools and areas they are less familiar with.”
- “It allowed us to contextualize the SAT score within their high school, which gives us a better idea of what success looks like in that area. It keeps us from immediately comparing to our middle 50.”