CASE STUDY 1: Kids 1, Inc., East Brunswick, New Jersey

Kids 1 provides management and instructional services for children with disabilities throughout the state of New Jersey. The High Road Schools, two nonpublic day schools which form a division of Kids 1, enroll 250 students in grades preK-12 under contract with local public school districts. Students at the High Road Schools may have developmental delays or neurological impairments manifesting themselves as learning disabilities, speech impairments, or attention deficit disorders. Students may have low or high levels of intelligence. The IQ of High Road students ranges from 75 to 140.

Before the student is placed, says Kids 1 president Dr. Ellyn Lerner, the student has typically experienced a spiraling down in behavior with either numerous suspensions or teacher conflicts. Says Lerner, "The child typically interferes with the learning of other students in the classroom until there is noticeably diminished learning going on in the classroom. That’s when public schools often outplace the most disruptive child."29

In addition to academics, the High Road Schools emphasize behavior modification and vocational skills. Classroom environments are highly structured with low student-to-teacher ratios. Students develop job skills in the restaurant, giftshop, and beauty salon operated by High Roads. Students may create their own small businesses, which have included a carwash service, hotdog cart, and ice-cream stand. Secondary students also learn on-the-job skills through off-campus internships.

Student outcomes are constantly measured and evaluated on several dimensions. For example, on a daily basis, teachers measure the student’s incidence of disruptions, amount of time on task, etc. High Roads also measures the student’s mastery of specific subjects, and breadth of knowledge across subject areas. Every three years, the student’s academic, social, and psychological progress is measured through state-mandated assessments. Says Lerner, "Outcomes for special education are real tough. We’re looking for better measures, such as future employment." After ten years of operations, longitudinal information about High Road alumni is just now becoming available. Among the eight students who completed High Road’s two-year job training program, seven are currently employed, says Lerner.