Panel: Understanding the Effects of Policies on Outcomes for Children with Disabilities

Friday, November 9, 2018: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
Wilson C - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Chairs:  Sherry Glied, New York University
Discussants:  Nora Gordon, Georgetown University and Sarah Prenovitz, Abt Associates, Inc.

Does Special Education Improve Outcomes for Students with Learning Disabilities? Evidence from New York City
Amy Ellen Schwartz1, Bryant Gregory Hopkins2, Leanna Stiefel2 and Michael Gottfried3, (1)Syracuse University, (2)New York University, (3)University of California, Santa Barbara

The Effect of an Autism Insurance Mandate on the Education of Children with ASD
Scott Imberman1, Riley K. Acton1 and Michael Lovenheim2, (1)Michigan State University, (2)Cornell University

How Does Special Education Access Impact Short and Long Run Student Outcomes?
Briana Ballis, University of California, Davis and Katelyn Heath, Cornell University

Children with disabilities are a large and financially demanding group of US public education students. In 2015, they were 13% (6.6 million) of all students and Parrish et al. (2015) has estimated that, on average, they cost 90 to 115% more to educate compared to typical students. Still, compared to their peers, they have poor academic achievement and high rates chronic absenteeism (Chronic Absenteeism in Nation’s Schools, 2016; Nation’s Report Card, 2016). Children with disabilities also lag behind on measures of employment, income, and life satisfaction, and lead on negative indicators including suspensions, expulsions, and delinquency (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996; Phelps & Hanley-Maxwell, 1997; National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, 2006). 

The large number of students receiving services, high cost of providing resources, and gaps in achievement highlight the need to evaluate the effectiveness of policies to improve outcomes. This panel presents three papers that bolster a dearth of research examining if such policies are effective. Each paper employs administrative data describing a unique sample of students with disabilities across three different states (Michigan, New York, and Texas) to estimate the effects of policy on access to, and the efficacy of, special education services. The policies studied in these papers include Michigan’s attempt to address spiraling costs of ASD treatment by introducing insurance mandates, general practices in the delivery of services in New York City, and Texas’s introduction of district enrollment target for placement into special education programs. The qualities of each policy are leveraged to explore the causal relationship to a mix of short- (identification, test scores, grade retention, test accommodations, support services, and educational settings) and long-run outcomes (graduation and college matriculation).

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