SBOE Resolution: Refining the Definition of Economically Disadvantaged Students



State Board of Education Resolution

Refining the Definition of Economically Disadvantaged Students



WHEREAS, affirming the integrity of achievement data and monitoring the progress of the most vulnerable students are two vital roles of state boards of education across the country;

WHEREAS, the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) currently, and in accordance with federal law, reports subgroup test scores for “economically disadvantaged” students in order that their achievement and growth can be tracked by schools, parents, policymakers, and other community members;

WHEREAS, like other state education agencies, OSSE uses a definition of “economically disadvantaged” that is based on students’ eligibility for free or reduced-priced lunch under the income eligibility guidelines set forth by the federal government;

WHEREAS, eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch was originally based strictly on family income and any student whose family earned an income less than roughly 185% of federal poverty guidelines was eligible;

WHEREAS, for over five years, in keeping with federal rules designed to reduce administrative costs and stigma, OSSE has designated many schools as “community eligible,”;

WHEREAS, under the rules that define schools as “community eligible” or “near eligible,” up to 70% of the students at such schools need not meet the income requirements for free and reduced-price lunch, severely weakening the correlation between free- and reduced-price meal-eligible students and “economically disadvantaged” students;

WHEREAS, currently in DC, 162 out of 231 schools are community eligible and therefore all of the students at these schools are considered “economically disadvantaged” for the purpose of reporting test scores;

 WHEREAS, test scores reported for the “economically disadvantaged” category therefore reflect the scores of a much more economically diverse group than was originally intended, and that parents, policymakers, and community members are consequently deprived of accurate information on the achievement of economically disadvantaged students,

WHEREAS, the federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires OSSE to report scores for “economically disadvantaged” students, but allows OSSE to determine that definition,

 WHEREAS, OSSE already collects student-level data on eligibility for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and homeless/foster care status in order to determine the amount of each school’s “at-risk” payment, in accordance with District law;

WHEREAS, in some cases, OSSE already reports the test score data for the “at-risk” subgroup, which includes the subgroups previously named as well as high school students who are two or more grade levels behind.

WHEREAS, the State Board believes that the current method of consolidated reporting is misleading and that students’ eligibility for TANF and SNAP and their homeless/foster care status is a more appropriate definition of “economically disadvantaged”;

WHEREAS, the monthly income threshold for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) eligibility is substantially lower than the monthly income threshold eligibility for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP);

WHEREAS, the needs and achievement of a “most economically disadvantaged” group of students may be substantially different from those who are designated “economically disadvantaged” solely because of their SNAP status; and,

WHEREAS, the State Board believes it is important for the District’s various education institutions, leaders, and families to be aware of and monitor the achievement and progress of this “most economically disadvantaged” group of students.

 NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education calls on the State Superintendent to change the definition of “economically disadvantaged” status to include only those students who are defined as “at-risk” based on their SNAP or TANF eligibility or their status as homeless or in foster care;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education calls on the State Superintendent to adopt this new definition when reporting “economically disadvantaged” student subgroup test scores, and that she do so prior to the release of PARCC scores for the 2017-18 school year;

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education calls on the State Superintendent to report test scores for a new subgroup named “most economically disadvantaged” that includes only students from families eligible for TANF or from homeless and foster care families, and to do so prior to the release of PARCC scores for the 2017-18 school year; 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education calls on the State Superintendent to use these definitions in any OSSE reports on educational quality, achievement, progress, programs, et cetera, and to do so no later than the start of the 2018-19 school year;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the State Board calls on the State Superintendent to revise and reissue the score reports for PARCC and DC-CAS incorporating the new definitions for “economically disadvantaged” and “most economically disadvantaged” retroactive to school year 2011-12, the year before the introduction of the free- and reduced price lunch community eligibility option was introduced;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the State Board directs its staff to work with OSSE, the Deputy Mayor of Education and the Council of the District of Columbia to enact this change in reporting.

Date Adopted: _________________ Signed: _________________________________________