In The Politics of Autism, I write:
A child’s chances of getting an autism label vary by geography as well as social class. On a broad level, state definitions of autism are consistent with the federal definition. At the practical level, there are differences, especially when it comes to assessing social and emotional development, health, vision, hearing, and motor skills. In 2011, seven percent of students receiving IDEA services nationwide had an autism determination. But the figures varied by state. The states with the highest share of IDEA students with identified autism were Minnesota (12.8 percent), Oregon (10.6 percent), and Connecticut (10.1 percent). The lowest were Iowa (1.1 percent), Puerto Rico (2.1 percent), Montana (2.8 percent), Oklahoma and West Virginia (3.7 percent each).
Christiana Samuels at Education Week:
Despite wide variation in the percentage of students enrolled in special education, a majority of teachers, principals and special administrators in a given state feel that the classification rates are largely on target, says a new report from Frontline Learning and Research Institute.
More than 17 percent of the students who live in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania are enrolled in special education, far outstripping the classification rates in other states, according to federal data. In contrast, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, and Texas—the four states with the lowest percentage of students in special education—have classification rates around 10 percent or less.
Most educators and principals feel these numbers are correct, even though they deviate from the national average of special education enrollment, 12 percent.
The insititute is a division of Frontline Education, which provides administrative and human resources software products to educational organizations nationwide. The institute draws on data from more than 12,000 school districts and millions of users of its products to create data-driven research on educational topics. This report, "Crossing the Line: Exploring Equity in Special Education Classification Across the United States," is one of four reports planned on special education topics.