Identifying students living in poverty is a tricky equation for states to solve. For years, the free and reduced-price lunch program was the standard when it came to making this determination. Changes to this system, however, increased the number of eligible students and made the poverty measure less precise. It’s further complicated when families avoid signing up due to perceived stigmas.
Because of this, states are now using different techniques to determine how many students are actually living in poverty. California and Colorado, for example, collect alternative income forms every four years.