卓越實證概述 Best Evidence in Brief

Disabled peers and students’ performance

An inclusive educational system in which students with and without special education needs are taught together is in place in many countries. The impact of inclusive education on students without SEN is one of the open questions of concern. A quasi-experimental study published in Economics of Education Review analyzed the influence of disabled students on the academic performance of their non-disabled classmates. Two waves of data from the China Education Panel Survey (CEPS) during 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years were used in the study. The survey was conducted with 2 classes randomly selected from grade 7 in each selected school. The authors targeted only schools which randomly assigned students to classrooms at the beginning of 7th grade and maintained that classroom composition thereafter. The sample consists of records of 5,517 students from 152 classes in 76 schools.

In this study, the sample was restricted to students who had been randomly assigned to classes, i.e.  not as an outcome of school and family choices. The randomness of this classroom composition is keyed to students’ characteristics (for example, age, gender, whether being the only child, family SES, etc.) to be equivalent between classrooms with and without disabled children. Parents reported their children’s disability status (e.g., visual impairment (excluding myopia), speech disorders, ADHD) in the first wave of CEPS. Using a binary coded measure, 350 students were disabled and 5,167 were non-disabled. The share of disabled students in the classroom was the treatment variable. Total mid-term exam scores of three compulsory subjects (Chinese, math, and English) were used to measure students’ academic performance. The peer effects of disabled classmates on non-disabled students were identified as follows:

  • Disabled classmates had a significant negative impact on non-disabled peers in terms of exam scores.
  • One percent increase in the proportion of disabled students reduced the scores of non-disabled peers by 0.014 and 0.010 standard deviations (SD) in grades 7 and 8, respectively.
  • Adding one disabled child to a classroom of 50 students could lead to a reduction of 2.0 % to 2.7% of a SD in exam scores of non-disabled students.
  • The negative spillover effect was found in Chinese and math but not in English.
  • The adverse spillover influence was larger for lower academic performers.

Even though the adverse effect was not large, based on the findings, the authors voiced their concern about whether the inclusive educational system should be strongly promoted in China.

 

Source: Huang, B., Lu, H., & Zhu, R. (2021). Disabled Peers and Student Performance: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from China. Economics of Education Review, 82, 102121.

Leave a Comment

*Please complete all fields correctly