Brief New Measures of Student Poverty
Replacing Free and Reduced-Price Lunch Status Based on Household Forms with Direct Certification
Erica Greenberg
Display Date
Download Report
(229.92 KB)

Free and reduced-price lunch status has long been used as a proxy measure for student poverty. This brief offers a short history of school lunch and its recent decline as a measure of economic disadvantage. It then provides a primer on “direct certification,” the most promising alternative, which links student enrollment with public benefits data to directly assess students’ household income. Under direct certification, eligibility rules, application, and eligibility determination procedures of public benefits programs take on new importance in affecting counts of low-income students. Better understanding of direct certification can help stakeholders in education make sense of new measures of student poverty and use them in line with intended policy and research goals.
Research Areas Education Social safety net Children and youth
Tags K-12 education School funding School breakfast and lunch Hunger and food assistance
Policy Centers Income and Benefits Policy Center Center on Education Data and Policy