Can we measure student economic disadvantage using geographic data on income and poverty?

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Research
Nov 14, 2018
Tomas Monarrez for The Urban Institute
Now that free and reduced price lunch (FRPL) status as an indicator of economic disadvantage is in decline, stakeholders are turning to replacement measures. Given the extent of socioeconomic and racial segregation in most school districts, neighborhood-level measures of economic distress seem like an appealing, easy-to-measure alternative, but this seemingly intuitive solution does a bad job of predicting FRPL rates and performs worse in places where it is more critical to get it right.
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