Blog Post: Character Education Standards

Six Character Education Standards in Search of an Audience
By Ed DeRoche

As you probably know, the Character Education Partnership publishes the eleven principles of effective character education and uses them for identifying schools that qualify for state and national awards (    Based on research and award-winning school practices, we created six standards with quality indicators to help define factors that should be present in a school with an exemplary character education program. Space does not permit a listing of all quality indicators; one example is shown for each standard.

Standard One:
 Mission-Core Values- Goals
Exemplary character education programs have a clear set of core values/virtues, including a mission statement and specific goals that are shared, used, and assessed. 
  • Describe the process that the school’s stakeholders experienced in creating the character education programs core values mission, goals, and expectations.
Standard Two: School Culture   
Exemplary character education programs address a school’s culture and its effectiveness to provide a safe environment, character development, community involvement, and student achievement.
“The National School Climate Council concludes that a positive school climate fosters youth development and learning…(that) includes norms, values, and expectations that support people’s feelings socially, emotionally and physically….”
– R.Sojourner, Character Education Partnership, p.5
  • Describe how school personnel promote and model the mission and core values and ensure a psychologically safe and caring school environment which contributes to a positive school culture.
Standard Three:  Value Formation-Moral Action
Exemplary character education programs nurture and foster students’ interpersonal values (those characterizing the individual’s behavior and attitudes in a wide range of situations and activities); intrapersonal values (those characterizing the individual’s behavior and attitudes toward others, especially as expressed in relation to family, peers, teachers, and persons in the student’s immediate social environment: and civic virtues (those characterizing the individual’s behavior and attitudes toward the community and society).
  • Describe how character development foster students’ self-motivation, self-awareness,social and emotional skills, and ethical problem-solving and decision-making.
Standard Four: Staff Development
Exemplary character education initiatives include professional development training, workshops, seminar, etc. for developing, implementing, and assessing character-building factors such as:  interactive teaching strategies, direct teaching strategies, modeling/mentoring, classroom or behavior management methods, school-wide activities, community service/service learning, and curriculum and programs.
  • Describe the time, resources, and plans that help stakeholders engage in consistent self- and team- development opportunities.  
Standard Five: Curriculum-Programs-Partnerships 
Exemplary character education efforts focus on “integrating character education into the full spectrum of school activities and school life through such means as (a) involvement across curricular topics, discipline practices, after-school activities, and other such school functions; (b) participation by teachers, principals, school staff, parents, and especially students in program design and implementation; and (c) multiple approaches to teaching character (e.g., instruction, modeling, special events, community service, experiential learning).” Institute of Education SciencesWhat Works ClearinghouseU.S. Department of Education
  • Describe how character education is integrated throughout the curriculum and at all grade levels. Specifically, describe how character education is infused in the general curriculum, includes separate units of study and programs; how they are infused throughout the curriculum? How are they addressed in other content areas? 
Standard Six: Assessment/Evaluation
Effective character education programs and initiatives are assessed on a regular basis and school personnel and others use data-driven information to make informed changes and decisions.
  • Describe specific findings and results from assessment efforts that inform stakeholders and others about “what’s working” with regard to such factors as school culture, classroom climate, students’ pro-social and at-risk behaviors, discipline referrals, absentee rates, etc.
For a copy of the Center’s standards listing all “quality indictors,” email us at