Schools of Character Application

New Ways to Interact With the Schools of Character Process
The Schools of Character application provides you with an opportunity for deep reflection on your school’s strengths and weaknesses and provides professional feedback to guide your journey.

In an effort to ​provide​ ​more​ ​resources​ ​and​ ​benchmarks,​ ​ways​ ​for​ ​more​ ​schools​ ​to​ ​participate, and​ ​better​ ​capacity​ ​to​ ​sustain​ ​the​ ​program​ ​long-term, there are four ways to interact in the Schools of Character process. Whether you be a school learning what it means to be a School of Character or an experience school re-certifying after the five year designation is complete, we want to help you on your journey.

Mock Audit
The application for State or National School of Character for 2018 has closed, but it is not too late to explore where your school is on the journey. Mock Audit is available year long. Complete the application, and within 6 weeks, your school will receive feedback on your implementation of the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.

2018 Application Fees

Fundraising Toolkit: Schools implementing the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education should already have strong community partnerships due to guidelines in Principle 10. We believe schools may be able to raise additional funds from partners in their communities that will want to sponsor their application, so we have created a fundraising toolkit to assist them with local fundraising. We will also host a webinar to discuss strategies and walk through the toolkit.

Application Guidelines for Schools and Districts Applying after Receiving the National Designation in 2013 or Before >>

Download a copy of the application (PDF) >>
Evaluator Checklist >>
Benefits of applying>>

I look forward to hearing about all of the great work that is happening in schools everywhere, and if I can do anything to help, please feel free to contact me at

Some of the info you will provide in the application:

  • A narrative of your character story: your history and areas of improvement
  • Your school’s implementation of the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education
  • Visual evidence (aka artifacts) of your character initiatives
  • Academic, behavioral, and climate data
  • Testimonials of stakeholders


  • Build your team. Prior to completing your application online, you’ll want to assemble a team that will collect and reflect on the information. This will help you put together an excellent application and give you a snapshot of where you are on your character journey and where you want to go.
  • Try another browser if you encounter problems. Google Chrome has worked well for most when completing the application.
  • Plan out your artifacts. For each of the 11 Principles, we ask you to provide evidence of your implementation through artifacts, which must be pdf or Microsoft Word documents. You’ll have an opportunity to include links to web pages or videos in the “additional evidence” section.
  • Send your self-assessments requests early. Self-assessments are sent and managed through the application system. Make sure you leave your assessors enough time to complete the assessment before your submission.
  • Remember the character limits are set as a maximum. You do not have to use all of the characters to provide the information necessary. Also, note that spaces do count as characters in our system.
  • Compile your data early on and provide as many years as you can. In the data portion, you must provide at least 1 year of data for test scores, behavioral statistics and school climate surveys. For the other years, you may use “n/a” to fill required fields if you don’t have additional data.

Learn more about parts of the application

11 Principles Stakeholder Self-Assessment

Assemble a group of knowledgeable stakeholders that includes staff, parents, and students (if appropriate). This group can be an existing leadership group such as a school improvement team or character education committee or it can be specially formed to lead the school or district through the Schools of Character application process.

The stakeholder group should assess your school or district’s character education initiative using the revised 11 Principles of Effective Character Education. The Scoring Guide can be found on the back inside cover of the 11 Principles document. An Excel score sheet that automatically calculates your scores is also available.

If your school or district community has not yet selected core values, this group should determine a process for doing so and begin that process.

School Climate

During the application process, you will be asked how you know that your character education efforts have had an impact on your school culture and climate. The best evidence you can provide is climate survey data. Your school or district may already give climate surveys each year. If not, be sure to conduct a climate survey of students, staff, and parents prior to submitting your application. Visit Assessment Tools for samples and resources. If no climate survey data is available, think about how else you can demonstrate growth in this area.

Student Impact

During the application process, you will be asked to demonstrate the impact of your character initiative on student behavior and academic achievement. Gather data on attendance, disciplinary referrals and infractions, suspensions, state test scores and AYP or other measures of academic achievement, performance of at-risk students, drop-out rates, and graduation rates as well as rates of college attendance (if applicable).

Principle 11 is your opportunity to make a persuasive case that your school (or district) has thoughtfully implemented character education. To demonstrate positive and significant results, be prepared to provide specific qualitative and quantitative evidence such as full data and analysis from climate surveys and other measurements. Plan to use numbers, not percentages, when reporting changes in student behavior (such as referrals or suspensions). Your narrative and supporting artifacts should clearly demonstrate that your community has gathered data, reflected upon it, and then acted as needed.

Implementation of the 11 Principles

You will be asked to explain how your character education initiative exemplifies the 11 Principles. Brainstorm responses to the following questions with your team.

  1. Write a brief and compelling overview of your school (or district) and your character education journey.
  2. How did your character education journey begin?
  3. Tell us your challenges and how your addressed them?
  4. What resources have influenced your school? List top 3 conferences, trainings, entities, and books that have been influential resources in your character education journey?
  5. Has anyone from your school ever attended our National Forum on Character Education? (yes/no)
  6. If YES – How has the Forum influenced your school’s character education program?
  7. Describe your accomplishments in each of the 11 Principles. Note that each principle has three or four “scoring items.” Include specific, illustrative examples and insert artifacts that address the scoring items. Keep in mind that to receive a score of 4 on an item, you must show evidence of all the key indicators of exemplary practice described under each scoring item. Refer to the 11 Principles document.

Tip: Many Schools of Character report that their teams used the following strategy: They put large sheets of newsprint around the room – one for each of the 11 Principles. They then asked each member of their broad stakeholder group to write activities or strategies that they knew were happening in the school that fit under each of the principles. This method of brainstorming gave the application writers a list of possible strategies to write about for each principle. Watch a short video of an NSOC Principal talking the benefits of this strategy.

Supporting Evidence

Gather artifacts that will amplify and support your claims. Examples include:

  • Data on positive behavioral or academic change
  • School climate survey results
  • Mission statements and school mottos
  • Examples of student work or student reflections
  • Lesson plans or assignments that integrate character education into the curriculum
  • Documentation of staff development or staff meetings

Tip: Do not use photos for evidence.

Additional Information to Gather

  • If your school or district has previously applied, include and identify the changes that you have made since the last application in your narrative.
  • If you see your school or district as a leader in helping others schools with their character education efforts or if you have outreach plans, describe your leadership efforts in Principle 9.
  • If you are using a commercial program as part of your initiative, include a brief explanation of the program. Don’t assume evaluators are necessarily familiar with it.
  • Be aware that evaluators may look at your website to see whether it reflects your character education initiative.