Certification Process

Become a School of Character!


For schools in the United States, there are
two levels of certification: State and National.


State Review

The state review takes place between December and January. State review teams evaluate applications based on the standards found in the 11 Principles Framework. Schools receive a score-sheet with comments citing strengths, areas of growth and potential Promising Practices. Character.org announces the schools and districts that have met the criteria for state certification in late January.

Schools and districts that achieve state certification are invited to participate in the national review that same year. The same application is used for both the state and national review.

Schools that receive state certification may wait before applying for national certification. This option provides schools time to address feedback received from the state review team that will help strengthen their application. Schools that receive state certification have five years in which they may apply for national certification. When submitted, the application will only be reviewed at the national level.

Schools applying for the first time or those who have previously received Emerging or Honorable Mention designations must receive State School of Character designation before being invited to participate in the national review.

National Review
The national review, based on the information highlighted in the state application, takes place between February and April. Character.org assigns a national evaluator to visit each school or district. While most site visits are in-person, some visits are virtual due to evaluator availability and travel costs. All national applicants receive a score-sheet and a detailed report citing strengths and areas of growth. Character.org announces the schools and districts that have met the criteria for national certification in May.



International Review

Schools outside the United States submit their application in English and follow the same review process, but use the name of the city where the school is located for certification if they meet the criteria of the first level of review, and the name of their country if they meet the criteria of the second level review. Schools invited to participate in the second level of review may decide on a virtual or in-person site visit, based on evaluator availability and travel costs.

Recertification

National Schools and Districts of Character applying for recertification go through the same process as newly-applying schools. They are re-certified as State and then National Schools of Character.

National Forum

All National Schools and School Districts of Character are formally recognized and celebrated at Character.org’s annual Forum in Washington D.C. One of the largest character development conferences in the world, our Forum brings together teachers and school leaders eager to share and learn together the latest approaches, practices, and research in character development.


Presenting at the Forum about my service work in Zambia with educators from
all over the country was transformative. All of a sudden I realized I was inspiring people. The entire experience, being in Zambia and at the Forum, changed the
way I viewed “school.” - Jacob (currently a college student)