Is Free and Reduced-Price Lunch a Valid Measure of Disadvantage?

For decades, researchers and education officials have used the National School Lunch Program as a key indicator of economic disadvantage.

Federal and state officials gauge student need and guide millions of dollars in education funding based on enrollment for free or reduced-price lunch. Now, new research suggests this indicator may not be as valid as it seems.

In this edition of Research Minutes we speak with Thurston Domina, researcher with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lead author of a new, multi-state study of education records, household income, and census data, which sheds new light on this long-standing metric.

Domina joins CPRE Research Director Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania) to discuss his findings, which also include a surprising correlation between lunch program enrollment and student achievement.