University continues to avoid using College Board resource


Hannah Preston

Books intended for SAT preparation sit on a shelf at Barnes and Noble on May 22. The College Board recently announced the Environmental Context Dashboard, a tool intended to measure social and economic adversity on college applicants’ backgrounds.

By Jose Zepeda, Assistant Daytime News Editor

The College Board, creator of the SAT, has introduced a new resource for college admissions officers to use in the process of selecting students to attend their respective colleges, and the University is getting some use out of it.

The resource, called Landscape, is used by college admissions officers to better identify the students applying to their college. It is a dataset of information that shows how one student compares to other students at the same high school.

Landscape itself is an improvement upon a previous resource released in May called the Environmental Context Dashboard. Landscape is a product of feedback and criticism of the ECD.

“We listened to thoughtful criticism and made Landscape better and more transparent,” said David Coleman, CEO of College Board, in a press release. “Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”

Previously, the ECD provided a single score, from a range of 1 to 100, that represented high school and neighborhood information. A score of 100 indicated higher student adversity. For Landscape, This has changed to a list of data with descriptions.

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    Some of the data Landscape will provide includes high school locale, Advanced Placement participation and performance, household structure, median family income, education level and senior class size.

    When the ECD was first released in May, the University did not immediately take full use of the resource. Andrew Borst, director of undergraduate admissions, said the University was in an analysis phase, meaning the data was not being used in determining potential students but instead to gather data associated with schools underrepresented at the University.

    Although the ECD has transitioned into Landscape, the University’s stance is still the same. Landscape will not be used in the admissions process, though the University will continue to use the data in other ways to find out more information about where students are applying from.

    Dan Mann, associate provost for enrollment management at the University, said students will continue to be evaluated solely on information included on their admission applications, high school courses and grades, test scores and personal essays, at least through the Fall 2020 admissions cycle. This remains unlikely to change going forward.

    The College Board also plans to make the data Landscape collects available to high school students and counselors. This is something that interests Borst and Emily Erazo, senior at Morton West High School in Berwyn, Illinois.

    “Stuff like this could be helpful to know, especially when considering which schools to go to or which schools I’ll consider applying to,” Erazo said.

    Erazo is interested in applying to the University and studying business. She hopes to be a part of several different organizations, including the earth science club and the Latinos in business organization.

    “I spent two nights there and fell in love with the campus and the diversity of the school,” Erazo said.

    For Erazo, seeing the University is not using Landscape data would be a sigh of relief.

    “It would create a bias (toward) students who go to lower-end public schools and (create) a stereotype and affect the chances of students who (want to) get in,” she said.

    Borst had been critical of the EDC in the past, saying its original rollout was poorly conveyed to the public. He added Landscape is a step in the right direction, but further analysis is still needed to see if the data could really help the admissions process at the University.

    Erazo said she believes colleges should focus on the students and not the schools they come from.

    “I believe it’s important to know the student at a personal level when applying and not have much bias (toward) the type of school they went to, along with the scores of the school because that’s the average and not the individual student.”

    When asked for a comment, the College Board referred to its press release, the Landscape website and a link to its data description.

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