Despite federal pressure in recent years to better serve students with disabilities, an achievement gap persists between students with disabilities and their peers, with repercussions on education and employment outcomes into adulthood. To meet federal standards that schools provide access to students with disabilities to the general curricula and instruction that meets their academic and behavioral needs, schools deploy a range of instructional models that vary in their costs and staffing demands. Yet the field has little evidence on which model is most effective for improving outcomes for students with disabilities. In partnership with the Indiana Department of Education, Winters and Jones will use longitudinal administrative data from the state to estimate effects of different classroom staffing models on academic outcomes for students with disabilities, including the effect on students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. They will compare outcomes for students in a general education classroom with a single teacher, a special education specific classroom, a single teacher classroom with paraprofessional support, and a co-taught classroom. Ultimately, findings may have implications for staffing and budgeting decisions in schools, and for policymakers’ understanding of which models of service delivery best improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
What is the relative effectiveness of different classroom staffing models for improving academic outcomes for students with disabilities, with a particular focus on Black and Hispanic students?