For decades, the federal Free and Reduced-Price Lunch (FRL) program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been used as a proxy to identify economically disadvantaged students. Participation in that program has been limited to students from low-income families, defined as those earning below 185 percent of the federal poverty line. FRL has been wildely used in state school funding formulas and accountability systems to identify at-risk children.
Both ESSA and Perkins V are intended to support the development and maintenance of programs that ensure students and workers acquire the broad range of skills needed to engage successfully in college and careers. However, these laws have traditionally been addressed in isolation. This article explores how considering ESSA and Perkins V as complementary parts of a larger accountability system can help states be better aligned with both.