Schools of Character Applications

Schools that are applying for the first time or who have received Emerging or Honorable Mention will be reviewed for State Schools of Character designation. State Schools of Character will be announced in January 2019. Application fee: $250.

Current State Schools of Character will re-submit their application to be automatically forwarded on for national review. Application fee: $250.

Deadline: December 7, 2018 (Midnight EST)

IMPORTANT – Preparing to Apply:

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. Download a FREE Introductory Guide to the 11 Principles of Character
  • Visual evidence (aka artifacts) of your character initiatives
  • Academic, behavioral, and climate data
  • Testimonials of stakeholders

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.  Download a FREE Introductory Guide to the 11 Principles of Character.

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.

Application Timeline>>

Other Ways to Interact with the Schools of Character Process

Free Access
The application will be available, year-round, for anyone who wants to access it for staff development. The application can be useful to reflect on the team’s progress in implementing the 11 Principles. Explore the 11 Principles of Character Education with staff and other stakeholders.

Mock Audit
This option is for schools that may not be ready for designation but would like professional feedback on their progress. Schools complete the application with their team, submit a $150 fee and receive written feedback with a score sheet. This option will also be available year-round and feedback will be provided on a rolling basis. 

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.

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