New Johns Hopkins Study Shows Learn It’s Desert Choice Program Reduces Costs and Improves Special Education Outcomes

Phoenix, AZ –A recent case study by Johns Hopkins Center for Research and Reform in Education demonstrates how Learn It’s Desert Choice Schools (DCS) partnerships are creating positive behavior and academic outcomes for students with special needs while also saving its school district partners substantial monies.

Conducted by one of the nation’s leading authorities on education programs and policy, the research team studied the Desert Choice Schools program for students with emotional disabilities, autism and other behavior related challenges. The program, which has been operating in Arizona for almost a decade, uses a rigorous positive behavior support program to teach students how better to self-manage their behavior. Characterized by a strong internal team culture, a commitment to program integrity and a goal of reintegrating students into a less restrictive, less expensive setting upon completion of the program, DCS is currently partnering with 6 school districts and operating in 28 classrooms.

The research concluded, “District leaders praised the program’s ability to serve students with emotional disabilities. Leaders indicated the important impact that the program has with providing an alternative environment for this population of students that is both beneficial for these students as well as the classrooms on their other campuses. District leaders also stated that the program has generated substantial financial benefit to the district through reducing their special education expenses.”

In addition, “DCS parents and students shared positive (and often substantially positive) opinions on the overall influence of the program. Both student and parents repeatedly cited behavioral improvements at school and at home. Examples of academic improvements were also shared. Furthermore, parents strongly praised the communication and support provided to them by the DCS staff and shared examples of the often substantial social and psychological improvements exhibited by their children during their time with DCS.”

The findings were based on an independent qualitative analysis of the program at Buckeye Union School District. According to Pete Brown, Desert Choice’s Executive Director, “DCS is an organization made up of professionals dedicated to helping our students succeed, whatever it takes. We take pride in working closely with our district partners to not only get great outcomes for their students, but also to do it in a cost effective manner. The study confirmed what we’ve known all along – our program is cost effective and substantially higher in quality compared to the typical private placement options.”

Read the full case study here.

About Desert Choice Schools

Desert Choice Schools is a certified K -12 Private Day School approved by the Arizona Department of Education to provide Special Education Services.  They currently offer classrooms co-located on public school campuses (“school-within-a-school”) for students with severe behavior or emotional disabilities, students facing suspension in need of an alternative placement, students requiring an alternative learning environment for life skills, and students with moderate to severe autism (in partnership with Autism Spectrum Therapies and Trellis Services). As part of the Learn It family of companies, the organization aspires to enhance the lives of students not only at school, but also in their home and community by fostering a lifelong love of learning, responsible decision-making, and the development of caring, contributing members of our multi-cultural society.