Articles / 10.11.2019

Landscape Does Not Level the Playing Field

By Davida Amkraut, with Susan Stone & Kristina Supler

student defenseIt wasn’t too long ago that the College Board, the company that administers the SAT, decided to include an adversity rating that is sent to colleges. The adversity score is intended to, in some way, level the playing field. We recently blogged about this score and discussed why it’s unlikely to accomplish its intended goal. We were not alone in our criticism.

Upon consideration of the criticisms of the adversity rating, the College Board rolled out Landscape. This tool will eliminate a single score and instead provide ratings based on three different categories of information: basic high school data, test score comparison, and high school and neighboring indicators such as median family income, college attendance, and crime. David Coleman, the Board’s chief executive officer, stated, “Landscape provides admissions officers more consistent background information so they can fairly consider every student, no matter where they live and learn.”

But there is still one major problem. Once again, Landscape does not glean any information about other impediments a student may encounter. What about a premature death of a parent, incarceration of a family member or racism? The rating also omits from consideration the student who faces learning differences and mental or physical illness that impact both their social and academic lives. It also does not consider the hardship of living with ASD or the disadvantages of living in a home with an atypical family structure even when living in a more affluent zip code.

Robert Schaeffer, director of Fair Test does not give Landscape the endorsement that the College Board wants. Instead he states, “By itself, Landscape will not do very much to open the doors to higher education… It’s less worse than what it replaced.” Hardly ringing praise.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about KJK’s Student & Athlete Defense practice, please contact Susan Stone at or 216.736.7220, or Kristina Supler at or 216.736.7217.


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