Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
The Second Access, Participation, Eligibility, and Certification Study (APEC II): Estimating and Validating Statistical Models for Updating Estimates of Improper Payments in the NSLP and SBP

Statistical models were designed to estimate national improper payments due to certification error on an annual basis using district-level data. This enables FNS to update its estimates of national improper payment rates for the NSLP and SBP in future years without having to conduct full rounds of primary data collection.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Approaches to Measuring Erroneous Payments in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program At The State Level

The second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II) included a follow-on report that provided statistically-derived state-level estimates of school meals erroneous payments. However, while APEC II provided a rough indicator of relative risk for groups of states (e.g., higher than average, about average, lower than average), it was not a state-representative direct measure, and creating actual annual measures of such erroneous payments at the state level using APEC methodology is cost-prohibitive. This report explores alternative approaches to developing measurement-based state-specific estimates that are responsive to year-to-year changes in the actual underlying rate in each state. It also provides cost and burden estimates for the implementation of each of these methods.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Regional Office Review of Applications (RORA) for School Meals 2015

This is the 11th in a series of annual reports that examines the administrative accuracy of eligibility determinations and benefit issuance for free or reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Regional Office Review of Applications (RORA) for School Meals 2014

This is the tenth in a series of annual reports to examine administrative errors incurred during the local educational agency’s (LEA) approval process of household applications for free and reduced-price meals in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This report examines administrative error estimates in student certification for free and reduced-price NSLP meals.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Program Error in the NSLP and SBP: Findings from the Second Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification Study (APEC II)

FNS developed the Access, Participation, Eligibility and Certification (APEC) study series, which collects and analyzes data from a nationally representative sample of schools and school food authorities (SFAs) about every 5 years. APEC allows FNS to develop a national estimate of erroneous payment rates and amounts in three key areas: certification error, meal claiming error and aggregation error.  FNS recently completed APEC II, which collected data in School Year 2012-2013 and this report summarizes those findings.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Regional Office Review of Applications ( RORA) for School Meals 2013

The study generates national estimates of administrative error in eligibility determinations and benefit issuance for free or reduced-price school meals.  For school year (SY) 2012-2013, local education agencies (LEAs) correctly certified 96.4 percent of students who applied for meal benefits.  LEAs assigned the correct free, reduced-price, or paid status to a slightly smaller 96.2 percent of students.  Roughly three quarters of certification and benefit issuance error resulted in a higher benefit level than was justified based on the data presented on household applications; about one quarter of LEA administrative error resulted in a lower benefit level than justified.  Certification and benefit issuance error increased slightly from SY 2011-2012 to SY 2012-2013, but the changes were not statistically significant.  Over the nine years of this report series, certification error has ranged between 2.0 and 3.9 percent; benefit issuance error has ranged between 3.0 and 4.6 percent.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Analysis of Verification Summary Data School Year 2008-2009

This report summarizes the results of the school year (SY) 2008-2009 application verification process for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP). Each year, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) review a sample of applications that they approved for free or reduced-price school meal benefits at the start of the school year.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Analysis of Verification Summary Data School Year 2007-2008

This report summarizes the results of the school year (SY) 2007-2008 application verification process for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program. Each year, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) review a sample of applications that they approved for free or reduced-price school meal benefits at the start of the school year. Households do not provide documentation of income or participation in means-tested public assistance programs at the time they submit applications for school meal benefits. However, if selected for verification review, households must submit such documentation to maintain their free or reduced-price certifications. Households whose benefits are to be reduced or terminated as a result of the verification process are given an opportunity to appeal. In addition, households remain free to reapply for benefits at any time.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Direct Verification Pilot Study: First Year Report

On an average school day, the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) provides subsidized meals to approximately 30 million school children, including 18 million low-income children. To ensure program integrity, school districts must select a sample of household applications for free or reduced-price meals, contact the households, and verify eligibility. This process (known as household verification) can be burdensome for both school officials and households. Some households do not respond to verification requests. When this happens, children may lose the free or reduced-price benefits even though they may be eligible for those benefits. Direct verification uses information collected by means-tested programs to verify eligibility for free and reduced-price meals without contacting applicants. Potential benefits of direct verification include: enhanced program integrity, less burden for households when no contact is needed, less work for school district officials, and fewer students with school meal benefits terminated because of non-response to verification requests. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265) permits direct verification of school meal applications and requires the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of direct verification (instead of household verification) by school district.

Resource | Research | Assessing/Improving Operations
Data Matching in the National School Lunch Program: 2005

This study examines the feasibility of expanding the use of computer matching for certification and verification of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals funded under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). This study provides a detailed description of how computer matching is currently used and how it could be used. It addresses the feasibility and effectiveness of different practices, from the point of view of both State and local agencies. Computer matching for NSLP has the potential to improve the efficiency and integrity of the certification and verification process without deterring eligible households from applying for free or reduced-price meals. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (P.L. 108-265) mandated direct certification of children in food stamp households, to be phased in over three years beginning in 2006.