Schools Find Solutions Through “Character Development”

By US Daily Review Staff.

Academic achievement, student behavior, and classroom culture – the ABCs that many schools struggle with – are areas of excellence for more than 300 schools recognized by the Character Education Partnership (CEP). CEP selected 25 National Schools of Character and 297 Promising Practices for 2012.

“You hear so much about school problems these days that it’s great to focus on schools that work,” said CEP President & CEO Mark Hyatt. “These schools went through a very rigorous evaluation process and we are thrilled to recognize their achievements and tell their stories.”

Notable achievements:

  • More than 3/4 of the student population at National Schools of Character scored proficient in language arts (77%) and math (80%).
  • Attendance averaged around 96% at these schools and has increased in almost all cases from last year to this year.
  • Also, out of school suspensions and other disciplinary problems have dramatically decreased. There were 1100 fewer discipline problems in National Schools of Character this year than two years ago.
  • 92 percent of students, parents, and teachers say that they are respected by each other.

Students from all types of schools are reaping the rewards from quality, comprehensive character education that engages parents, students, staff, and the community as partners. This year’s National Schools of Character represent 20 public schools, three private schools, one charter school and one district. Each school has a story to tell about increased academic achievement, fewer disciplinary problems, and other benefits of a caring school climate. See the full list of National Schools of Character.

For example, Hamilton City School District, an urban district in Hamilton, OH, with a poverty rate of 70% has seen its graduation rate increase from 77.5% to 92.2% over the past four years.

Another inspiring National School of Character is Eagle Rock School in rural Estes Park, CO, designed to meet the needs of “at-risk” high school students. A remarkable 80% of the students graduate. One staff member said, “Our graduates speak about the transformative nature of their years at ERS. They are in the workforce, in undergraduate, masters, and PhD programs. They were headed toward drop out status.”

Students say bullying is rare at another National School of Character. “We don’t have bullying issues,” said James, a fifth-grader at Mockingbird Elementary School in Coppell, TX.

For the past five years, more than 95% of students scored at least “proficient” on tests in language arts and math at Mockingbird Elementary. Nevertheless, a Mockingbird staff member said, “Our staff and families recognize that academic achievement has no meaning unless our learners have integrity, a good work ethic, care for others, and are able to work collaboratively in an effective, supportive manner.”

All of the 2012 National Schools of Character serve as models and mentors, helping other educators transform their school cultures and improve academics and behavior. You can see details about each NSOC and the Promising Practices on CEP’s website.

The 297 Promising Practices will go to schools, districts, and organizations from across the United States, as well as from Brazil, Canada, Hong Kong, and Mexico. Winning practices were selected from a record-breaking 537 applications. See list of Promising Practice winners.

“These practices showcase so many creative and unique ways of dealing with challenges educators face each day,” said Lisa Greeves, manager of the Promising Practices program. “CEP is proud to recognize these educators and to give them an international platform upon which to share their hard work.”

This year’s winning practices include unique anti-bullying programs, successful integration of academics and character, self-motivation and goal-setting strategies, service-learning activities, and community outreach.

Both the National Schools of Character and Promising Practices will be featured at the National Forum on Character Education to take place Nov. 1-4, 2012, in Washington, DC, where they will share their secrets to success.

“These schools demonstrate school cultures that enable all their students to thrive socially and academically,” said NSOC Director Lara Maupin. “Schools of character are places that bring out the best in everyone – students, staff, and even parents and community members.” Watch a video about the power of Schools of Character.

To learn how your school can become a school of character, download CEP’s framework, the 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.

According to a statement, “The Character Education Partnership, based in Washington, D.C., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonsectarian coalition of organizations and individuals dedicated to helping schools develop people of good character for a just and compassionate society. CEP is the nation’s leading advocate for quality character education initiatives. To learn more about CEP and the National and State Schools of Character, visit www.character.org.”

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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