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How Poverty is Measured Matters for School Funding and Services

Group of children from various ethnicities

Learning Policy Institute’s (LPI) new study, Measuring Student Socioeconomic Status: Toward a Comprehensive Approach, discusses the limitations of the popular measure and examines alternatives for state policymakers who are seeking to accurately count students from low-income families.

“Changing how we measure and address student poverty is more important than ever,” said LPI Senior Researcher Peter Cookson, who authored the study. “A shift away from the [federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch] FRPL [program] measure was already long overdue and taking place in some states. This takes on deeper urgency now as learning for a generation of students has been upheaved by the COVID-19 pandemic. Accurately measuring family incomes is necessary if policymakers are to allocate school resources that meet the educational needs of students.”

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