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Schools of Character
In schools of character, adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals—and with parents and community members as partners—to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day. Students in these schools feel safe, respected, and connected to those around them, allowing them to thrive academically and socially and be motivated to give back to their communities.

In Schools of Character:

Bullying is rare
  • 85% of students attending 2014 National Schools of Character (NSOC) reported in climate surveys that they felt safe at school or that bullying was rare (with 33 of 44 schools reporting).
  • Pauline J. Petway Elementary: 99% of students report feeling safe at school.


Cheating and discipline problems decline

  • 87% of the 2014 National Schools of Character that reported disciplinary referrals either experienced declines in that area or had rates that were extremely low.
  • 89% of the 2014 National Schools of Character that reported suspensions either experienced declines or had rates that were extremely low.
  • Eastern Christian School Association: From 2011-12 to 2012-13, suspensions decreased 71% (from 251 to 73).
  • Hiram Neuwoehner High School: From 2011-12 to 2012-13, suspensions decreased 71% (from 42 to 12).


Test scores, grades, and homework completion go up

  • 87.7% of the 2014 National Schools of Character reporting experienced an increase in state reading and math scores – or have passing rates above 85%.
  • Smith Street School: Became a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence for its academics. The school had the highest third grade math scores in Nassau County, and it scored highest in the Uniondale district on all NYS tests.The NYS Science exam showed 96% of Smith Street School students passed.
  • Imagine Charter School at Weston: Florida Blue Ribbon School of Excellence last year, the school’s elementary students were ranked No. 1 in reading among 728 Florida schools with 25 percent or more English Language Learners, second in math, and fifth in science. Among all 1,780 Florida elementary schools, Imagine Charter School at Weston also ranked seventh in math, No. 22 in reading, and No. 36 in science. The middle school students also demonstrated high academic achievement, ranking No. 10 in math and No. 16 in reading among 577 middle schools. ​


Attendance and graduation rates are high

  • The average attendance rate at the 2014 National Schools of Character was 95.4%, compared to 93.7% nationwide.
  • Two of the three 2011 National High Schools of Character reported graduation rates above 90% (95.9% and 98.5%). The third school, with a free and reduced lunch population of 73%, reported a graduation rate of 75%. The 2011 National District of Character, with nearly one-third of its students considered economically disadvantaged, reported a high school completion rate of 94%.


Dropout rates are low
In the 2011 National District of Character, Fort Bend Independent School District, the dropout rate for 2009-10 was 1.1%, despite having a student population with 30.9% considered economically disadvantaged and 43% identified as being at risk.

Achievement gaps are narrowed

  • In the large, diverse 2011 National District of Character, the percentage of students passing state math tests increased from 66% in 2003 to 87% in 2010. During this period, the percentage of African-American, Hispanic, and economically disadvantaged students passing state math tests increased by 33 points. District officials report that the achievement gap is “shrinking on all assessments.”
  • Walnut Street School (over 90% minority, 45% economically disadvantaged): Named New York High Performing / Gap Closing School; has met or exceeded AYP every year; mean proficiency rates since 2005: 82% in language arts; 95% in math; 99% in science; 98% in social studies.
  • Mark Twain Elementary School: Named a Blue Ribbon School; scores in reading and math have advanced from the 30th to the 80th percentiles.
  • Oakwood Elementary School: The percentage of African American students passing state math tests soared from 56% in 2005-06 to 79% in 2009-10; the corresponding figure for Hispanic students increased from 40% to 100%. During this same period, the percentage of students passing state reading tests rose from 56% to 72% for African American students, and from 40% to 75% for Hispanic students.
  • South Brunswick High School has narrowed the achievement gap in language arts, with 91% of African American students, 90% of Latino students, and 92% of economically disadvantaged students passing state tests.


Teacher retention and satisfaction are high

  • Brigantine Elementary School: No new hires in over 6 years.
  • Renfro Elementary School: 2010 staff surveys indicate that 89% of staff feel intrinsically rewarded for doing their job well and 93% feel they belong.


Parent satisfaction and engagement rates are high

  • Bayless Elementary School (43% minority, 61% economically disadvantaged): Through the school’s Practical Parenting Partnership, parents are recruited and trained, and become active participants in school events that educate other parents on parenting skills and the importance of academics while engaging families in interesting and lively activities.
  • Uthoff Valley Elementary School: 100% of parents participate in teacher conferences, thanks to the school’s arranging for transportation and scheduling phone chats when necessary.
  • Oakhurst Elementary School: Volunteers logged a total of 5,400 volunteer hours during the 2009-10 school year, exceeding the district average.


Student engagement and involvement is high

  • Nearly 100% of the students attending 2011 National Schools of Character participated in service learning projects.
  • Alan B. Shepard Jr. Elementary School: When a survey revealed an increase in student anxiety in regard to test-taking, students took the lead in resolving the concern. They investigated the issue, wrote skits, created a TV broadcast on strategies to reduce anxiety, and shared their findings with the student body.
  • Muskogee High School has over 40 student groups and organizations. Participation in the Advocacy Program grew from 150 students in 2008-09 to over 1,000 students in 2010-11.

Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Schools of Character prove that when school communities come together for a common purpose, amazing things happen. Schools of Character work—for kids, parents, and communities.


Become a School of Character:

LEARN FROM MODELS

School profiles Find a national or state school of character near you.
2013 NSOC MagazineAnnual book Read inspiring stories about the National Schools of Character.
Video Watch a video of character in action at Schools of Character around the country.
Lesson plans Browse lessons written by teachers at national schools of character.
Best practices Looking for ideas for your classroom, school, or district? Search the Promising Practices.

LOOK AT GUIDING STANDARDS Framework for success There’s no one right way to educate for character but here are some broad principles to guide you.

ASK FOR FEEDBACK School improvement Submit a School of Character application and receive free professional feedback on your school or district’s program.
State sponsors Learn what is happening in your state to develop Schools of Character. Contact your state coordinator for information and resources.
Training Learn more about CEP’s professional development opportunities.

Ready to become a school of character? Start the process!

Become a model Apply for recognition as a School of Character.
Share best practices Apply for recognition as a Promising Practice.

For more information, contact Schools of Character Director, Sheril Morgan at smorgan@character.org.