Spillover Effects of Inclusion of Classmates with Emotional Problems on Test Scores in Early Elementary School
Jason M. Fletcher
University of Wisconsin - Madison - Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs; Yale University - School of Public Health
June 22, 2009
Over the last decade, the federal government has directed schools to provide educational instruction for students with special needs in general education setting to the extent possible. While there is mixed evidence on the effects of these inclusion policies on the students with special needs, research examining potential spillovers of inclusion on non-disabled classmates has been scarce. There is particularly little research on the effects of inclusion policies on classmates during early elementary grades. This paper begins to fill in this gap by using a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of Kindergarteners. Cross sectional results suggest that having a classmate with an emotional problem decreases reading and math scores at the end of Kindergarten and first grade by over 10% of a standard deviation, which is 1/3 to 1/2 of the minority test score gap. In order to control for non-random sorting of students to schools as well as students to classrooms, this paper uses school-level and then student-level fixed effects. Results from the preferred empirical models suggest a decrease of approximately 5% of a standard deviation in math and reading scores, though the results are reading are less robust. The results also indicate moderate racial and gender differences in the effects.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: inclusion, peer effects, special education, elementary school
JEL Classification: I2, I28
Date posted: June 29, 2009
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