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Planning for the Future: Implications of Child Count File Changes on Reporting

It’s important for states to collect Child Count data for children with disabilities not only for meeting federal reporting requirements, but also for learning about the enrollment, educational environments, disability categories, and general demographics of their children with disabilities. States submit their Child Count data in the recently revised EDFacts file specifications for Children with Disabilities (IDEA) School Age (FS002) and Children with Disabilities (IDEA) Early Childhood (FS089). The FS002 state submissions historically captured children with disabilities ages 6–21, while the data from the FS089 submissions historically reported the counts of all children with disabilities ages 3–5. In the 2019-20 school year, states had the option to voluntarily include five-year-old children with disabilities who are in kindergarten in the FS002 submission and exclude these children from the FS089 data. Effective with the Child Count for the 2020–21 school year, states will be required to include five-year-old children with disabilities who are in kindergarten in their FS002 submission and exclude these children from the FS089 data.

The revisions to the FS002 and FS089 EDFacts files specifications will affect multiple indicators in the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report (SPP/APR), including Indicators B5 and B6, which capture educational environments for school-age and preschool children with disabilities, respectively. States will now include five-year-old children with disabilities who are in kindergarten in the Indicator B5 data sets. Previously, they would have included these children in the Indicator B6 data sets. This change in moving five-year-old kindergarten children with disabilities from the FS089 submission to the FS002 data could change the percentages of children that states report in the various educational environments described in indicators B5 and B6.  The changes to the FS002 and FS089 file specifications also may have implications for Indicators B9 and B10, which address disproportionate representation of children with disabilities in particular racial/ethnic groups.

Finally, these changes to the two file specifications will affect the data states use to calculate significant disproportionality relative to placement of children with disabilities in educational environments (see IDC’s Data Sources for Calculating Significant Disproportionality for more information). The educational environment category data for school-age children with disabilities, which historically represented children with disabilities ages 6–21, may look different once the data include five-year-olds with disabilities who are in kindergarten.

If you are looking for more information about changes to the FS002 and FS089 files, you can find resources and recordings from the Partner Support Center (PSC) webinar in February 2020 here.

—Chris Thacker

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