Teach By Design
Aug 8, 2017

7 Dos and Don'ts to Ensure Your CICO Program is the Best

​​Check-In Check-Out is a great way to help students manage their behavior when they need just a little more practice. Learn about common pitfalls and simple strategies to make your CICO program run smoothly.

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Check-In Check-Out (CICO) is a program to support students in your building who need a little extra help managing their behavior. It’s pretty straightforward in its approach:

  1. Students check in with an adult at the beginning of each day to be sure they are prepared for class and ready to learn.
  2. Throughout the day, students check in with teachers and receive points on a card (0, 1, or 2) related to how closely they met school-wide behavior expectati​ons.
  3. At the end of the day, students check out with an adult who totals up the points.
  4. If it’s part of the routine, students take their point cards home to share with their parents and the card gets turned in the next morning at check-in. CICO programs without a family component ask students to turn in their cards at check-out.
  5. The cycle repeats itself each day.

If you do it right, CICO will help:

  • Reduce problem behaviors
  • Increase academic engagement
  • Reduce referrals to more intensive behavior support interventions[1]

So, how do you know you’re doing it right? The book, Responding to Problem Behavior in Schools: The Behavior Education Program[2], outlines exactly how to run CICO in your building. Here are 7 practical dos and don’ts for your consideration.

1. ​Don’t enroll every student in CICO

It would be easy to use CICO as your go-to group-based intervention. It’s efficient, always available, and flexible. Naturally, if you see a student needing a little extra practice with your school-wide expectations, CICO might seem like the best fit 100% of the time. The truth is: CICO isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for every student referred for additional support.

Do enroll stude​nts who like attention from their teachers

Keep the intervention efficient for everyone involved. Finding out what motivates a student’s behavior lets you focus in on which options fit best given the circumstances. CICO is most effective for students with pretty low-intensity behaviors that happen most often when they’re looking for attention from an adult in the room[3]. When a student comes to your attention needing more support, check out the severity of the behaviors and ask yourself why they do the things they do in class.

Beyond the kind of attention they’re looking for, other students who could be considered for CICO include students who:

  • Were enrolled in CICO at a previous school
  • Are new and arriving at the school after the first three weeks of the year. CICO is a nice introduction to the building’s expectations and routines.
  • Received two or more referrals
  • Are not in crisis
  • Have been absent 5 times in a month

2. Don’t start eve​​ry student on their very own personalized point card

CICO is a targeted, group-based intervention. By definition, students on CICO need less support than what you might provide for personalized interventions. Many schools include a CICO component as part of their individualized plans, but creating unique point cards for everyone modifies the basic CICO feature. Put yourself in your check-in, check-out coordinator’s shoes. Imagine checking in up to 30 students - every day - each with their own personalized point card. How quickly could you move through that line?

Do standardize your point ​cards

The point card you create for your school should include specific parts:

School-wide expectations

Be sure to state these positively and keep it easy for your teachers: limit the number of expectations listed to no more than five.

One way to make the point card personal is to provide a place for students to write their own goal or reminder related to an expectation. If the expectation is to be respectful, a personal reminder could be to use kind words. Use a space like this as a prompt for the student to remember a specific goal throughout the day.

A three-point rating scale

We recommend using a 0,1,2 point scale instead of a 1,2,3 point scale. Students who struggle to receive negative feedback need our help managing that skill. Using the preferred scale forces us to address how we give feedback as well as how our students learn to receive that feedback.

Point Card Examples

3. Don’t treat​ check-in as an afterthought

The very first interaction students have is the morning check-in. For that reason, check-in is more than a “Hello” and a “How are you?” Check-in is the way a student starts the day. Think about who is the right person to handle check-in. Who is the person with charisma? Who has a natural connection with students? Who has the time in the morning to check-in with each enrolled student? I bet you have someone in mind, don’t you?

​Do set stu​dents up for success with a deliberate check-in

Think about the little things that could trigger problem behaviors for students. Remove those barriers.

  • Make sure everyone has the basic supplies they need – paper, pencil, notebook. If they’re missing anything, grab a supply from your stash and put it in their backpack. Help them be prepared to learn.
  • Get to know your students and naturally give them reminders to carry with them throughout the day. If they struggle with the respectful expectation, remind them to listen and raise their hand in class. If they turned in their book report yesterday, congratulate them on finishing up their project.
  • Tell everyone you’re glad to see them and to have a great day.

4. Don’t file paper​ away

CICO requires a point card for each student enrolled. That means at least a dozen half-sheets of paper turned in at check-out every day. While a point card reminds students of expectations, it also contains important information about how their day went and whether the intervention is working. Your team needs the point card as much as each student. If you file it away, the information is set aside and forgotten.

Do use a data s​ystem

Instead of shuffling papers, enter those data in a system. No matter which system you use, let it be one that:

  • Provides space to enter the total points each student earned per period
  • Calculates the average percent of points each student earned per day
  • Lets you track all students enrolled in CICO
  • Tracks goal setting, plan changes, and absences
  • Generates school-wide reports informing how the intervention is working for all students enrolled
  • Generates reports for each student informing how the intervention is working for those enrolled

5. Don’t leave stu​dents on CICO forever

It might be easy to leave students on CICO through the end of the year. What if we take him off of CICO and his behavior escalates? What if she starts having trouble in 3rd period again? If CICO is part of a student’s IEP or they just need more time, keep up the daily cycle. How do you know when it’s time to fade their participation? Data.

Do watch progress ​​and modify as needed

Whatever your schedule for reviewing student data, be sure to check for which students should transition out of CICO and which students should be referred for additional supports at least quarterly. Answering these questions regularly means you will be less likely to keep students on a program they no longer need and better able to add other students without overwhelming the system. As you review the data, you will see some key indicators start popping up alerting you when a change might be necessary.

Consider referring students for additional supports when:

  • You see failure for 2-6 weeks
  • Students receive their 6th office discipline referral
  • There are five absences in 30 days
  • Problem behaviors become dangerous
  • There is a mental health concern
  • The family requests additional supports

Fade students from CICO who:

  • Consistently meet their goals for at least four weeks. This is an average across days. If a student meets the goal four out of five days for at least four weeks, it’s a good indicator their ready to move off of CICO.
  • Haven’t received an office discipline referral for at least four weeks.

6. Don’t stop the intervention cold turkey

Talk about students who meet your team’s criteria for exiting the intervention. Does anyone have a reason why a student should stay enrolled? Use your conversation as another piece of information guiding your decisions. Ending CICO routines abruptly isn’t ideal and might unintentionally escalate a student’s behavior. Whenever a student is ready, transition off of the intervention and into more self-guided routines.

Do use Self-Managemen​t to transition students off of CICO

Self-management in CICO is a way to increase a student’s responsibility for his/her behavior without prompting from teachers. Students still have a point card; the difference is, they score their own behavior alongside their teacher. At the end of the period, students meet with their teacher to compare scores. Success is determined by whether the student’s score matches the teacher’s…even if the score is 0. Eventually, teachers score fewer periods in the day until the student monitors the whole day on their own. Keep entering the point card data and watch to be sure self-management is working.

7. Don’t assume the interventi​on will run smoothly

Sure, CICO is a simple program. Even simple programs need proper attention. As easily as you set it up, it can just as quickly fall apart. When you look at your CICO data, do you notice many students fail to meet their goal or is it just a couple? How many periods are marked without data? Does that happen for lots of students or just some? If many students on CICO struggle in the intervention, it’s possible the problem is systemic rather than isolated.​

Do check fidelity of implemen​​tation

Something to continually ask yourself is: Are we doing what we said we would do? There are multiple surveys you can take to assess your implementation, including the SWPBIS Tiered Fidelity Inventory (TFI)​. The purpose of the TFI is to assess your implementation and sustained use of school-wide, group-based, and intensive interventions in your building. Take a look at the section for Tier II interventions and see how your program fairs.

1. Hawken, L., Sandra MacLeod, K. and Rawlings, L. (2007). Effects of the Behavior Education Program (BEP) on Office Discipline Referrals of Elementary School Students. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 9(2), pp. 94-101.  
2. Crone, D., Hawken, L. and Horner, R. (2010). Responding to problem behavior in schools. New York: Guilford Press.  
3. March, R. E., & Horner, R. H. (2002). Feasibility and contributions of functional behavioral assessment in schools, Journal of Emotional and Behavior Disorders​, 10, 158-170.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

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