Upper School (Grades 8-9)

Guiding students to become effective learners.

Carroll's Upper School provides an intensive one- or two-year, college preparatory curriculum with tailored academic support. The program is ideal for smart students who could benefit from time management, study, and academic organization skills. Our educators recognize that every student has a unique learning profile, and design their curricula to nourish the skills needed to become an effective learner.

Carroll School Curriculum

The driving emphasis in the Carroll School curriculum is delivering what each child most needs. This means that the classroom experiences are tailored specifically to meet the needs of each child. Given our small classes and tutorials, achieving this lofty goal is actually possible. Unlike traditional schools where a prescribed curriculum defines what happens in the classroom, Carroll’s curriculum emphasizes the skill development and learning strategies that each child needs to acquire and pays close attention to the grade-level content delivered in public and other independent schools. Learn about our Curriculum Guiding Principles

Curricula Areas

Click on the specific curricula areas below to discover how this guiding philosophy works in Upper School classrooms:

Language Arts & Tutoring

Our goal is to teach your child to read effectively and efficiently. To do that, there is a general developmental sequence that students go through as they become increasingly skilled learners. Our teachers and tutors constantly assess your child to determine the right reading instruction that best meets his or her needs. This may be 1:1 tutoring or small group instruction.

8th Grade Double-Language Class

Meeting two times per day, 8th grade students develop foundational reading and writing skills related to decoding, (Orton-Gillingham), fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, recognition of plot structure, fiction and nonfiction text analysis, and the process of writing. In reading, students learn to apply active reading strategies to help understand and make meaningful connections with text, as well as how to discuss and answer questions. In writing, students learn the EmPOWER (plan, organize, write, evaluate, and revise) approach and apply those strategies to independent assignments.

9th Grade English Class

As students advance into 9th grade, their reading skills move from the concrete understanding or comprehension of a text to a more nuanced understanding of theme, tone, and style. Through discussion, writing, active reading, and presentations, students show an ability to analyze the meaning of what they read. Likewise, 9th grade English explicitly targets writing skills as students work to read, understand, and engage with the written word. Using the EmPOWER method, they develop the writing process from prewriting skills, to outlines and organizers, to multiple drafts, and finally to a revised final draft.

All Upper School language classes include strategies that help students keep up with challenging workloads using text to speech and other technology.


Our math curriculum is designed to teach students how to think. Traditional math, where facts and computations are memorized, does not harness the strengths of students with dyslexia. We take a different approach.

Carroll math teachers nourish students’ logic and problem-solving skills to empower them to grow their mathematical intuitions. We accomplish this by assessing each student and setting class goals that are targeted to the class’ unique set of strengths and challenges.

Our mathematics content is guided by the Common Core Curriculum Frameworks for each grade, and includes: Fundamentals, Geometry, Pre-Algebra, and Algebra.


We aim to help students understand and connect to the people and the world around them, in a present and historical context. Using history as a backdrop, our teachers lead projects and activities that allow students to practice critical thinking, note-taking, outlining, language, comprehension, vocabulary, written expression, and organizational skills.

8th Grade: US History (19th and early 20th centuries)
9th Grade: World Civilizations (Ottoman Empire, Chinese Dynasties, Byzantine Empire, pre-Columbian Periods)


Children with dyslexia often see the world differently. That's why our science classes are designed to engage students in hands-on, multi-sensory activities that build upon their strengths to think critically and creatively.

To help these skills, science teachers design projects and experiments that foster the following skills: observation, recognition of similarities and differences, categorization, sequencing, recognition of patterns, recognition of part to whole relationships, determination of cause and effect relationships, recognition and control of variables, making predictions, and drawing conclusions.

8th Grade: Biology & Life Sciences
9th Grade: Physics

Flex Block - Focus Areas

At Carroll, we hand craft each student’s schedule to give that child what they most need.

Flex Block provides additional time for students to receive well-designed, thoughtful curriculum from trained faculty within carefully crafted groups. Throughout the year, students participate in the following three strands: skills development, targeted cognitive intervention (TCI), and health and wellness.

For Focus Areas, students are placed in a learning environment that custom targets an academic area needing more focus - be it Orton-Gillingham, oral reading fluency, comprehension & vocabulary, written expression, creative writing, math thinking and problem solving, etc. Students are constantly assessed to track progress in their assigned focus area and are adjusted accordingly.

Cognitive Development

We’ve discovered that helping students with key cognitive development skills directly impacts their ability to read, comprehend, write, and problem solve.

In the Targeted Cognitive Intervention (TCI) program, cognitive profiles reveal where learning weaknesses exist. Using games and activities, TCI directly targets those underlying deficits in areas such as reaction time, processing speed, visual working memory, verbal working memory, and many forms of executive function to help strengthen the underlying learning skills of each student.

Learn more about how TCI works ...

Art, Music, Movement

Children with dyslexia often have prolific talents. We celebrate the dyslexic advantage by giving children opportunities to embrace their strengths through art, music, and movement.

The Studio Arts program is designed to foster self-expression, self-confidence, and lifelong curiosity by building skills, tool technique, and concepts through a wide variety of artistic media.

The Music program develops students' skills, knowledge, and confidence to share their unique talents with their community and the world. Students explore and experiment with concepts that support self-expression.

The Movement program promotes students’ gross motor skills, aerobic fitness, body strength, flexibility and eye hand/foot coordination, and social interaction skills.


We believe that technology, when used appropriately, can bolster learning. At Carroll, children learn how computers, tablets, apps, and the internet can positively support their education.

In the Upper School, all students are assigned an individual Chromebook to use during the school day. Our Educational Technology team hand selects grade-appropriate resources and tools that best meets the needs of each student, teacher, classroom, and project. Likewise, teachers are encouraged and trained to use technology that supports, not replaces, learning.

Technology is always used under close supervision from a teacher and is intended to be another engaging tool through which children can learn and begin to build 21st century skills.

Student Skills

How students approach their education is a key marker of future success. That's why each teacher is trained to teach important student skills, such as growth mindset, grit, independence, and self-advocacy.

Supervised Study Halls

Guiding students to be independent in their work helps prepare them to meet the academic rigor of high school. Daily study hall with teacher guidance provides 9th graders the opportunity to learn how to prioritize and initiate their work, as well as get a jump start on homework.

Whole Child

We believe that a commitment to a child’s healthy social and emotional well-being goes hand-in-hand with academic success.

At the Upper School, students start each day within small advisory groups. Using Developmental Design techniques, students work on preparing for the day, setting personal goals, and enhancing social support & relationships. We also help students make positive connections through recess, community service, athletics, community events, our annual Fall Festival, and so much more.

Student Life at the Upper School

View the video below to hear from students about their experiences in grades 8 and 9. Learn more about Student Life at Carroll

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