Early Academic Outcomes of Funded Children with Disability

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 29/17

Date: October 2017


John de New
Cain Polidano
Chris Ryan


People with disability face considerable difficulty participating fully in work and the wider community, due in part to poor schooling outcomes. To enable students with disability to meet their potential, the governments provide extra funding to schools to help them meet their special learning needs. Such funding includes extra funding for meeting diverse student needs under formula-based block grant arrangements, funding for specific programs and funding that is targeted at the individual level. In this study, we take a first-step in examining outcomes from targeted funding, over and above outcomes from other funding sources, in mainstream public schools in Victoria under the Program for Student with Disability (PSD). We use information on disability and child development in the first year of school from the Australian Education and Development Census (AEDC), linked to Year 3 NAPLAN and information on PSD receipt from Year 1 to Year 3. We find that only around 17% of mainstream public-school students with disability who are in the bottom quarter of the state developmentally receive ongoing targeted funding under the PSD between 2012 and 2015. Using multivariate regression and rich administrative student data to control for differences between students with disability who do and do not receive targeted funding, we find that the receipt of PSD is strongly associated with being exempt from sitting NAPLAN, which obstructs any proper examination of the educational outcomes from funding. These results raise the prospect of extending existing funding according to developmental need, but caution that any such change should be accompanied with measures that ensure funding outcomes can be assessed.

Download Paper

  • School funding, disability, standardized test scores