1876 = 1876
So here is the big news. The number of students with autism in the 2020 school year did not change from the number of students with autism in the 2019 school year. The Child Count for both years is exactly the same number - 1876 students with autism in Montana public schools.
We checked by comparing the changes in year to year district-level data. We checked again comparing year to year county-level data. We checked a third time by comparing year to year data on race. For each set of data, the number of students with an identification of autism increased and decreased by the exact same amount and the net sum was zero.
Perhaps COVID had a role:
Spring pre-school screenings were cancelled, which meant that some some students who would have been newly-identifed in the spring may not have been evaluated.
When schools moved to remote learning, new and currently-enrolled students may not have been evaluated for autism due to the difficulties of conducting assessments through virtual observation and testing.
This was the second Child Count year in which students ages 6-8 could be served under the identification of Developmentally Delayed (DD.) Although we have only one year of comparision (2019) we will be looking at the DD numbers and other age data for 2019 to 2020.
The number of all students with disabilities in the Child Count declined by ~500 students (19,645 to 19,156.) Since students with autism average around 9% of the total child count, theoretically that could mean that there were 44 fewer students with autism as part of that decline in the number of students with disabilities.
We will be looking more deeply at the 2020 Child Count data to see what might be interesting and will share anything of interest or conjuncture that we find. Below some of the 2020 Child Count Data on Montana Students with Autism.