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.

CEP national schools of character programsIn schools of character:

Bullying is rare
  • 87% of students attending 2011 National Schools of Character (NSOC) reported in climate surveys that they felt safe at school or that bullying was rare (with 27 of the 44 NSOC reporting data in this category).
  •  Eldridge Park Elementary School: 100% of 3rd graders report feeling safe at school in exit polls.
  • Fuguitt Elementary School: 98% of students report feeling safe at school.
  • Mark Twain Elementary School: The school reports an 85% reduction in incidents of bullying over the past 6 years.
  • Union Elementary School: 93% of students surveyed say they have never been bullied.

Cheating and discipline problems decline

  • 89% of the 2011 NSOC that reported disciplinary referrals either experienced declines in that area or had rates that were extremely low.
  • 90% of the 2011 NSOC that reported suspensions either experienced declines or had rates that were extremely low.
  • Bingham Farms Elementary School: After-school detentions have been completely eliminated.
  • Brigantine Elementary School: There have been no out-of-school suspensions in the last two years, compared to a state average of 4%.
  • Duffy Elementary School: From 2000-01 to 2010-11, suspensions decreased 95% (from 22 to 1).

Test scores, grades, and homework completion go up

  • Most of the 2011 NSOC made AYP. Only 22% of the public schools recognized as 2011 NSOC did not make AYP in 2009-10, compared to 38% nationwide.
  • 100% of the 2011 NSOC reporting experienced an increase in state reading and math scores – or have passing rates above 90%.
  • Roosevelt Primary School (72% economically disadvantaged): 89% met state reading standards and 97% met state math standards in 2010, compared to rates of 52% and 46% in 2004.
  • Joseph A. Catena Elementary School: In the first two marking periods of 2010-11, more than 75% of students in grades 3-5 earned honors distinctions.

Attendance and graduation rates are high

  • The average attendance rate at the 2011 NSOC was 95%, compared to 92.1% 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%.
  • At Fox Middle School, the number of D and F grades dropped from 898 in 2004-05 to 199 in 2009-10.

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 NSOC 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:


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.
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.


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

School improvement
Submit a state/national 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.
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 State/National School of Character.
Share best practices
Apply for recognition as a Promising Practice.


For more information, contact Schools of Character Director Dr. Russ Sojourner at