Middle School Support Programs

In Middle School we offer a variety of support programs to enrich our core academic curriculum.  These programs  include the RAD Program, Check-In/Check-Out, and Study Skills Courses.
The Reinventing Achievement and Development Program (RAD) was developed in 2016 by Principal Kathleen Conklin. The program was created in response to an increasing number of students demonstrating that they would benefit from additional support in academics, executive functioning, and social/emotional skills during the difficult transition to middle school. 
The Check-In/Check-Out (CICO) Program was also started in 2016 and is yet another tool we offer to support students in grades 6th-8th. This program is aimed to improve executive functioning skill development, but also supports academics and social/emotional functioning. The one-on-one, twice-daily connection with a supportive adult provided by CICO provides students with highly individualized coaching on their strengths and needs, and is required for all transfer student into middle school. For more information on our CICO Program, please see below.
The Study Skills courses are offered in both 6th and 8th grade. The 6th grade course is strategically poised to help our students make the significant jump from primary education, to a middle school educational program. The 8th grade course is designed to hone leadership potential and styles through the application of executive functioning and social/emotional skill sets.

Reinventing Achievement and Development Program

RAD serves as our primary Tier 2 intervention for middle school students who require an additional level of support. This support program provides students with systematic academic, executive functioning, and social/emotional support in a small group setting. Students learn to successfully navigate the increasing demands of middle school education, and prepare for their upcoming transition to high school.  Students that participate in the RAD program do so in lieu of Spanish for their entire middle school experience. RAD occurs three times per week for 45 minutes per class. This small-group support will have a maximum of 6 students per class.

As is true in our general education courses, the RAD Program is progressive in nature, intentionally building foundational skills in 6th grade, spending more time on the application of skills to general education studies in 7th grade, and finally, understanding the purpose and making use of more advanced skill sets in 8th grades. Over the course of the multi-year RAD program, students who participate will be coached to:

  • Understand their strengths and weaknesses as learners, including any documented disabilities
  • Work to improve upon all areas of executive functioning
  • Develop “toolbox” of best practice strategies that can be used in any academic setting
  • Communicate, in both speaking and writing, in a more effective way
  • Cope with stress and challenge in productive ways
  • Navigate partner and group work successfully
  • Identify and access resource and support when necessary
  • Self-advocate with teachers, peers, and parents
  • Become confident learners who demonstrate leadership in the classroom and school community
  • Believe in themselves as capable individuals who have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to have successful high school experiences

Students enrolled in the RAD program meet three times per week, in addition to twice-daily participation in our Check-In/Check Out Program (CICO). The CICO program allows students to receive consistent support needed to facilitate new skill development and habit formation.  The ultimate goal is for student to have independence and confidence in themselves as learners and community members.

The activities that students do with their time in RAD class are tailored to the strengths and needs of each particular group of students and their corresponding academic demands, but may include the following:

Examples of Explicit Lesson Topics: Examples of Learning Activities:

  Executive functioning skills

  Study strategies

  Long-term planning

  Communicating with teachers

  Learning styles

  Organizational strategies

  Social skills for working in groups

  Presentation skills

  Test-taking strategies

  Face-to-face self-advocacy

  Grade checks

  Test review sessions

  Monthly responsibility/event calendars

  Mock presentations with peer feedback

  Collaborative problem-solving tasks

  Reteaching of academic concept

  Additional practice problem sets

  Creativity challenges

  Binder/locker/planner checks

  Mindfulness and stress-reduction


How students are selected to be in the RAD Program

Teachers work together with members of the Student Success Team to determine which students would benefit from inclusion in the RAD program.  The team uses student assessment data, report cards, work samples, classroom observations, and Student Support Plans to decide the level of tiered support that each student will need upon making the transition to middle school.  There is an option to create one or two sections of RAD class, serving a maximum of 12 new students per year into the program.  Students typically are selected to be in the RAD program in 5th grade.  However, students may enter the program anytime during their 6-8th grade years as long as they demonstrate a need for additional support and the team determines that the student would be best served by inclusion in this comprehensive support program.

Students who are recommended for RAD actively demonstrate a need within the school environment for support across a range of academic, executive functioning, and social/emotional areas. If a student does not demonstrate this need in the school environment, they will not be asked to join the RAD program. For this reason, students with documented disabilities may not be automatically recommended to participate in this program. Although this program is teacher-recommended, it is ultimately family-selected, which means that the student and his or her family has the ultimate say on their participation in the program. 


If you are interested in your child being included in the program, start by contacting your child’s homeroom teacher. This person will be very capable of informing you as to your child’s demonstration of knowledge, skills, and strategies within the school environment, and their fit in the RAD program. If it seems like RAD may be a good fit for your child, the homeroom teacher will support you in connecting with The Director of Student Success, regarding your child’s placement in RAD.

We feel strongly about facilitating the development of students who understand themselves as learners, see value in tackling challenges with a growth mindset and hard work, are excited by accomplishing new things, and are confident in their abilities to contribute positively to their local and global communities. These characteristics are something we strive to facilitate in all of our students, who come to us with a range of abilities and learning needs. At ASB, we believe strongly that it is an open, honest, and collaborative partnership with students that allows us to transmit these attributes to them over the course of their education. Students who are recommended to participate in the RAD program strongly benefit from this type of communication with our staff prior to entry into the RAD program. Staff will share with your child why they are being recommended to participate in RAD, how their current strengths will support their RAD experience, and how RAD is a tool to help them reach their individual goals. When students recognize that RAD can support them in earning better grades, participating confidently in class discussions, turning in model work, and being accepted into their high schools of choice, they quickly see the program not as a punishment, but as an incredibly valuable resource to be used on their path to success.
If you have concerns about how to explain and discuss RAD with your child, please contact The Director of Student Success, at emccarthy@asbschool.org or School Counselor cdahl@asbschool.org.
There is no requirement for students to take a foreign language in middle school.  Although our students who take Spanish will be well prepared for high school Spanish, your child who enrolls in RAD may take Spanish in high school right alongside their peers. In addition, many of our students elect to take a different foreign language in high school, including French, German, Russian, Chinese, or Sign Language, and in this case, their enrollment in RAD over a foreign language is inconsequential.
This program is aimed to improve executive functioning skill development, but also supports academics and social/emotional functioning. We have found CICO to be a vital support for many of our students, including those who participate in the RAD program. The one-on-one, twice-daily connection with a supportive adult provided by CICO provides students with highly individualized coaching on their strengths and needs, and is a perfect compliment to the instruction and learning activities that occur in RAD. 

Check-In/Check-Out (CICO)

This program is an effective, research-based intervention program designed to proactively and positively address low-level academic, behavioral, executive functioning, or social/emotional concerns. The program allows each participating student to receive increased:

  • positive, one-on-one adult connections at school
  • structure, especially when transitioning to and from school
  • opportunities for individualized coaching on specific executive functioning skills
  • constructive adult feedback
  • prompts for appropriate behavior
  • collaborative problem-solving with concerns
  • reinforcement for effort and positive changes

Although our CICO program begins with increased attention, oversight, coaching, and structure, the ultimate goal is to gradually release responsibility to participating students to facilitate independence and achievement in the areas of academics, executive functioning, and social/emotional.

Students Recommended for CICO


This unique program provides an opportunity to address low-level concerns in all areas: academics, executive functioning, and social/emotional development. If your child was recommended to participate in this program, he or she must be demonstrating over a period of time a need for additional support in one or more of those areas. Students who benefit from CICO often display such concerns as:

  • struggles with academic content
  • does not understand homework
  • shows difficulty staying organized
  • is unsure about what to do for homework
  • can’t remember due dates, deadlines, and test dates
  • struggles with performance on tests or quizzes
  • often misplaces work and/or doesn’t turn it in
  • forgets materials at school/home
  • feels lost or disconnected at school
  • is shy or nervous around teachers

Because the program is designed as a one-on-one educational opportunity with a trained teacher, the format and content of the meetings can be specifically tailored to the unique needs of the student.  If your child was recommended for Check-In/Check-Out, this is a great opportunity for him or her to begin improving their academic performance, managing their responsibilities as students, and feeling more confident and comfortable in the school environment. 

When a student is enrolled in CICO, the student’s homeroom teacher and our Student Success Team will work together to assign a teacher to that student who would be the best academic, executive functioning, and social/emotional fit. Once the student’s CICO teacher has been assigned, the student will begin meeting with their CICO teacher twice daily. Most students meet their CICO teacher between the times of 8:15-8:30am, and 3:00-3:10pm, and the meeting takes place in a location that makes sense for the CICO teacher and the student. The CICO teacher will collaborate with the student to set appropriate goals, and plan on how to achieve those goals. Every time your child meets with his or her CICO teacher, they will review the areas that are most important to that student (i.e. going over their homework planner, discussing study strategies, checking backpacks and lockers for organization), as well as discuss any other concerns that the student may have (i.e. forgot their lunch, can’t fit a worksheet, are worried about a test, etc.). The student’s CICO teacher manages the needs of immediate concerns, and keeps track of the long-term goals set by the student, to facilitate forward progress in their skills, abilities, and confidence as learners. 
Students who participate in CICO do so because of a demonstrated need for a little more support in skill development in the areas of academics, executive functioning, and/or social/emotional. The participating students present with a very diverse range of abilities, skills, and knowledge, and participate to address a broad range of goals. For this reason, there is no set length of time that any student will participate in CICO. The majority of our students will participate for an entire academic year at a time, although there is a smaller group of students who will achieve their goals quickly, and be able to maintain their improvements on their own. For students who participate for an extended period of time, CICO does not remain static. Most often all of our students are able to achieve their goals with the help and support of their CICO teacher, and then simply decide to move on and tackle other goals. We provide CICO because of its immense value in helping so many students achieve a whole variety of goals and begin to see themselves as successful, capable individuals in the classroom and community.
Although every parent may wish to have Check-In/Check-Out for their child, this program is not a good fit for every learner. The best thing we can do for our students is allow them countless opportunities to build independence as learners and students; if a student does not need CICO, their participation in this program would not be conducive to developing that independence. Students who participate in CICO must demonstrate over a period of time a need for the program based on their academic, executive functioning, and/or social/emotional skills and abilities. If you believe that your child would benefit from CICO, start by contacting your child’s homeroom teacher. He or she can provide you with their perspective on your student’s progress and educational plan. If your student’s teacher believes that your child would benefit from CICO, your child’s homeroom teacher will support you in contacting The Director of Student Success.

Study Skills Courses

Students in 6th grade have the additional bonus of participating in our 6th Grade Study Skills course. This course is strategically poised to help our students make the significant jump from primary education, to a middle school educational program. This advancement brings with it a step up in academic rigor, student responsibilities, transitions and interactions with more teachers, and all executive functioning skills. At this crucial time, this course provides students with an additional lesson each week promoting executive functioning skills in relation to classroom behavior, management of responsibilities, homework completion, and test-taking skills.
As a capstone to our leadership programming, our 8th grade students also participate in our 8th Grade Leadership Course. This course is designed to hone leadership potential and styles through the application of executive functioning and social/emotional skill sets. Students are expected to graduate from ASB motivated to use their executive functioning and social/emotional skills to fulfill future leadership roles in academics, clubs, sports, service, and the arts. This enrichment course provides them with instruction, activities, discussion, and reflection prompts to encourage student contemplation of why and how they want to showcase and use their strengths in the wide world beyond ASB.