Application Timeline
Both State and National Schools of Character serve as models and ambassadors of effective character education. They share their successful strategies with other educators and open their campuses as demonstration sites. State Schools of Character hold their designation for 3 years and National Schools of Character for 5 years.


CEP recommends that applicants have been engaged in character education for at least one school year but any Pre K-12 school or district in the United States is eligible to apply. Past NSOC can apply again after five years, making those named in 2009 or earlier eligible to apply in 2014. You do NOT have to be located in a participating state to apply. (Applications from non-participating states are reviewed by CEP.)

Schools and districts from outside the U.S. are welcome to apply for Promising Practices.

Questions Asked on the Application

During the online application process, applicants are asked to enter:

  • Basic information about their school or district
  • Narrative and portfolio evidence of how they are implementing each of the 11 Principles
  • Average scores from their stakeholder group’s 11 Principles self-assessment

Those named National Finalists are asked to enter additional supporting evidence online in March. See 2014 Application for a full list of the questions asked on this year’s application as well as applicant tips.

Scoring Criteria

Both national and state reviewers screen applications using CEP’s revised 11 Principles of Effective Character Education.


State Sponsors in participating states select State Schools of Character (SSOC) in January as a prerequisite to being forwarded to CEP for consideration as NSOC. CEP announces National Finalists by early March and asks them to submit additional supporting evidence online. Finalists participate in a more thorough National Evaluation process in March and April which often includes site visits. CEP announces the NSOC by mid-May. See the full timeline of the application process for more information.