NCLB Subgroups

No Child Left Behind defines ten student groups:  All Students, 5 ethic groups (American Indian, Asian, Hispanic, Black, and White) and Limited English Proficient, Special Education, Migrant Status and Free and Reduced Priced Lunch.  Only the scores of subgroups with 20 or more students are used to calculate AYP with exception of Special Education and Limited English Proficiency, which must have at least 40 students.</p>

Two concerns have been raised about the subgroups as they are currently defined by the No Child Left Behind legislation:

  • All African Americans Are Lumped Together as One Subgroup.  Resident African American parents are very concerned about how their children are being lumped together with Immigrant African American children.  The starting points and barriers to receiving a high quality education are very different for the two populations of students.
  • Free and Reduced Price Lunch.  Several concerns have been raised about the validity of using Free and Reduced Price Lunch as a variable to measure school performance.  The first concern has to do with data collection, which happens through the voluntary completion of an eligibility form.  There are several factors that might contribute to a low-income family not completing the form from literacy and home-language barriers to pride.  Data collection is especially problematic at the high school level.1   What’s more, there’s a significant difference between a school with a mean family household income level of $38,000 and a school with a mean family household income level of $145,000 in terms of the time, energy and dollars the families have to contribute to the school community, as well as the family support services needed to sustain the school families.  (Note:  In Minnesota, a family of four with a gross income of $38,000 qualifies for energy assistance.)The August 2005 article, Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform, suggests that the most powerful policy for improving our nations’ school achievement would be to reduce family and youth poverty.   This issue has powerful implications for how we, as taxpayers, might prefer to allocate our combined resources to have high expectations for ALL Minnesota children.


  1. Minnesota Consolidated State Application Accountability Workbook, page 30. Revised July 20, 2005.  Accessed October 2005.