Looking Beyond Subsidized Meals to Understand Student Poverty

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Schools and governments often use the proportion of students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch as a proxy to measure poverty, but there is wide variation in economic disadvantage among those students, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution. The Gap Within the Gap finds that there are significant differences in race, income, and academic achievement between students who are eligible for subsidized meals during some of their first eight years of school and those who are eligible for all of their first eight years. Students in the latter group are much more likely to be black or Hispanic, come from very poor families, and live in dense urban areas, according to the report.

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