Thursday, November 7, 2019

Differences between Johnstown, Westmont, and Richland School Districts in Special Education


The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book on Johnstown by the numbers.
            The Pennsylvania StateData Center issues an annual report on each school district in the state onspecial education data. For this book I will take a look at the Greater Johnstown, Westmont, and Richland School Districts for the ’07-’08 and ‘18-’19 school years. This is to show changes in enrollment and the special education population over the last 11 years. The state rates are provided for comparison.
            The table below shows that enrollment in each school district and in the state overall has decreased. Statewide it has decreased 4.3% while in Greater Johnstown it has decreased 4.7%, in Richland it has decreased 7.8% and in Westmont it has decreased 14.5% over this time period. The percentage of enrollment in special Ed increased from 15% to 17.3% statewide. In Greater Johnstown it decreased from 19% to 17.9% over the same period while in Richland it increased from 10.1% to 11% and in Westmont it increased from 9.4% to 14.1%.  The Greater Johnstown School District does have a larger burden than the state as a whole or the more affluent Richland and Westmont School Districts.
The starkest change in the enrollment for Greater Johnstown school district is in its ethnic makeup. In the ’07-’08 school year the district was 67% Caucasian.  Ten years later it was 45% a 22% decrease.  The African American percentage increased from 29.8% to 34% over this period while Hispanic enrollment increased from 1.8% to 4.2% over this period.  The remainder of the student body or 16% is identified as multiracial in 2018. This category was not reported in ’07-’08.
For special education, African Americans were 27.1% of the total in ’07-’08 and 33% in ‘18-’19 which is 1% lower than their representation in the student body. Caucasians were 70.8% of special educations students in ’07-’08  which was 3.8% higher than it was in the student body and in ‘18-’19 they were 49% of the total which is 4% higher than their representation in the student body. 13.8% of special ed students were multiracial in ‘18-’19 which is 2.2% lower than their percentage in the student body.
In Richland the % Caucasian decreased from 96.1% in ’07-’08 to 90.7% in ‘18-’19. The % African American increased from 1% to 2.5% and the % Hispanic increased from 1% to 1.9% over this period. 2.3% of those enrolled identified as multiracial in ‘18-’19.  95% of those in special education were Caucasian in ’07-’08 while 89.2% were in ‘18-’19.  African Americans were less than 1% of special education students there in ’07-’08 while in ‘18-’19 there were 6.6% of the total which is 4.1% higher than their percentage in the student body.
In Westmont the % Caucasian in the student body decreased from 96.6% in ’07-’08 to 87.1% in ‘18-’19.  The % of African Americans increased from 1.2% to 2.1% and the % of Hispanics increased from 0.7% to 2.9% over this period.  The percentage of those identified as multiracial were 6.5% in ‘18-’19.  The special education students were 96.3% Caucasian in ’07-’08 and 79.7% in ‘18-’19 for an underrepresentation of 0.3% and 7.4% respectively.  For African Americans it was not reported in ’07-’08 or in ‘18-’19. For Hispanics it was not reported in ’07-’08 but in ‘18-’19 it was 5.3% which is 2.4% higher than the student body.  Multiracial special ed students were 8.7% of the total which is 2.2% higher than the student body in the year ‘18-’19.
Looking at the changes in the types of disabilities served, statewide there was an decrease in the percentage of students with intellectual (-2.2%) and learning (-11.5%) disabilities, with speech and/or language impairments (-1.8) and emotional disturbances (-0.9%).  There was a 6.7% increase in the percentage of special ed students with autism.

  • ·         In Greater Johnstown there were decreases in intellectual (-0.3) and learning (-14.5%) disabilities and in speech and/or language impairments (-5.4%).  There were increases in autism (10.3%) and emotional disturbance (2.3%). 
  • ·         At Richland there were likewise decreases in the percentage of intellectual (-3.7%) and learning (-15%) disabilities and in speech and/or language impairments (-7.7%).  There were increases in autism (15.7%) and emotional disturbance (8.5%).
  • ·         At Westmont there was a decrease in the percentage of learning disabilities (-14.8%) and speech and/or language impairments (-4.4%) and an increase in the percentage of students with intellectual disabilities (1.2%), autism (18.4%), and emotional disturbance (3.6%).
This could mostly be a reflection of the fact that autism is diagnosed now a lot more often than it has been in the past.


Greater Johnstown
Richland
Westmont
State
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
‘07-'08
‘18-’19
% special Ed
19%
17.90%
10.10%
11.00%
9.40%
14.10%
15.2%
17.30%
Total Enrollment
3,027
2,886
1,633
1,506
1,720
1,470
1,801,760
1,723,405
% Caucasian (total)
67.00%
45%
96.10%
90.70%
96.60%
87.10%
73.9%
64.6%
% Caucasian (Sp. ed.)
70.80%
49%
95.20%
89.20%
96.30%
79.70%
NR
63.1%
% African American (total)
29.80%
34%
1.00%
2.50%
1.20%
2.10%
16.0%
14.8%
% African American (Sp. ed.)
27.10%
33%
NR
6.60%
NR
NR
NR
17.8%
Specific Disabilities (% of all special ed)








Intellectual Disability
7.10%
6.80%
12.70%
9.00%
7.50%
8.70%
8.50%
6.30%
Autism
NR
10.30%
NR
15.70%
NR
18.40%
4.60%
11.30%
Learning Disability
49.20%
34.70%
49.70%
39.80%
53.40%
38.60%
52.10%
40.60%
Emotional Disturbance
11.50%
13.80%
0.00%
8.50%
7.50%
11.10%
9.40%
8.50%
Speech or Language Impairment
18.40%
13.00%
14.50%
7.80%
15.50%
10.10%
16.10%
14.30%

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