Replacing Fraction Free Lunch

Alternative Measures of Economic and Social Disadvantage and their Implications

Edited by:
Thomas Downes, Tufts University
Kieran M. Killeen, University of Vermont

A volume in the series: Research in Education Fiscal Policy and Practice. Editor(s): Kieran M. Killeen, University of Vermont. Thomas Downes, Tufts University.

Call for Manuscripts

The following is a call for manuscripts to be included in a new book titled Replacing Fraction Free Lunch. Brief abstracts for proposed chapters in the book will be accepted until July 15, 2022. Potential chapter topics and submission guidelines are detailed below.

Book Series Mission Statement:
Education finance and policy issues in the United States reflect a durable tension between local, state and federal interests in the governance and provision of educational services. At the core of this tension is the desire for local control and provision versus moral and constitutional obligations of the state and federal government to equalize opportunities for students. The resulting policy context creates an ongoing demand for rigorous, timely, and field-relevant research on how the design and implementation of school finance systems can ameliorate the tension and achieve the desired effects. This book series is intended to help meet this demand.

Specifically, the series provides a scholarly forum for interdisciplinary research on the financing of public, private, and higher education in the United States and abroad. The series is committed to disseminating high quality empirical studies, policy analyses, and literature reviews on contemporary issues in fiscal policy and practice. Each themed volume is intended for a diversity of readers, including academic researchers, students, policy makers, and school practitioners.

Motivation and Organization of the Proposed Volume:
Faced with the problem of how to measure the magnitude of economic disadvantage in the populations served by schools or districts, researchers addressing school finance topics have invariably turned to the fraction of students eligible for free- or reduced-lunches (FRPL). But the facile dependence on FRPL may be problematic. A large and growing literature in learning sciences and in the field of education itself has pivoted towards studies that explore the relationship between social/emotional health and the learning of children. The growing body of research on social/emotional health and learning (e.g. Gershoff, Aber, Raver, and Lennon, 2007) suggests that more refined measures of wealth, income and hardship more fully account for the effects of economic disadvantage than does FRPL. Historically, research in school finance has not utilized these refined measures but instead has depended on FRPL.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), a recent change in how student eligibility for free lunch is determined, may have the unintended, and yet fortuitous, consequence that it will force school finance researchers to use more sophisticated measures of student hardship. The CEP makes it possible for schools serving low-income populations to classify all students as eligible for free- or reduced-price lunch. Koedel and Parsons (2021) argue that, while FRPL might have been a workable measure of student disadvantage prior to CEP, post-CEP the extent of a school’s or a district’s population that is disadvantaged is no longer measured accurately by FRPL. Fazlul, Koedel, and Parsons (2021) go on to argue that, even prior to CEP, FRPL failed to provide an accurate measure of a school or district’s poverty. This new policy environment makes it imperative to explore alternatives to FRPL and the implications for school finance.

The goal of this volume is two-fold. First, we will draw together papers that compare alternative measures of student hardship at the school and district level and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of those measures. Second, we will include papers that explore how sensitive key findings in the education finance and policy literature are to the choice of measure of student hardship. The book is particularly interested in attracting new studies that replicate well-known papers in school finance that explore how, if at all, key findings change when FRPL is replaced with alternative measures of hardship.

The book aims to provide a timely collection of new research on a measurement issue that is central to much research on K-12 education finance. The book is meant to serve scholars in education finance and policy who need a refined perspective on the context of schooling. The book is also meant to serve students and faculty from programs in public administration, public policy, community development and applied economics, education administration, educational leadership and policy studies who are studying content related to education policy, the economics of education, state and local public finance, and taxation. Some upper-level undergraduate students may also benefit from this resource.

Submission Guidelines:
• In response to this call, prospective authors are invited to submit a chapter proposal of ~500 words by July 15, 2022 using the editors’ emails above. The proposal should include four elements: the chapter title, research question, summaries of the main sections of the chapter, and a statement about why the manuscript will be valued by the target audience.
• Editors will review each proposal and will select chapters within 30 days.
• The author(s) of each chapter will be invited to a virtual convening in early January 2023 during which the contributors to the book will present their manuscripts.
• Peer review feedback, editorial review, and copy-editing services will be provided during winter/spring 2023.
• Selected chapters may be invited to participate in virtual panel presentations in early June 2023.
• The final book chapters will be due August 15, 2023.
• Book publication is slated for early Spring 2024.

Send all inquiries to Thomas Downes, or Kieran Killeen,