What's Happening in Character?

Empowering Students Through Self-Assessment

Posted by Svetlana Nikic on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 08:04 AM

By Svetlana Nikic, Academic Instruction Coordinator & Algebra Teacher, Busch Middle School of Character

In these times of great technological change and computer apps, teachers are inundated with data and therefore often puzzled how to revise their approaches to assessment that often fails to inform about direct learning, teaching and the whole child. To resolve this dilemma in my Algebra 150 class, I developed a scorecard for daily lessons, skills, activities and homework.

Students grade themselves using a point system for every activity based on modeled exemplary answers. I found this assessment tool to be a best fit for my students because it aligns with our school’s core values and mission statement in terms of commitment to inspire our students to value academic and personal growth through character education.

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Topics: testing, student voice, assessment, assessment and character education, student engagement

Considerations for Adopting a School Climate Survey

Posted by Linda Inlay on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 08:04 AM

By Linda Inlay, retired principal of The River School, a National School of Character

Those of us who have been talking for years about the importance of school culture or school climate and how it can improve student achievement, are heartened by the inclusion of this topic in the national conversation about school improvement. ESSA’s requirement for a non-cognitive measure in assessments has given school climate credibility as a serious focus of consideration.

The Research Alliance for New York City Schools recently shared its findings of the “robust relationships” between school climate, teacher retention, and student achievement. And Education Week published a blog on the U.S. Department of Education releasing a free, web-based survey that schools can use to track the effectiveness of school climate efforts and resources on how to best improve learning environments for students.

I’d like to offer in this posting some considerations before deciding on the school climate survey for your school or district.

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Topics: school climate, assessment, assessment and character education

How Reflection Can Transform Your School

Posted by Lynnda Nadien on Wed, May 20, 2015 @ 11:05 AM

At 2014 National School of Character, Smith Street School, reflection is so important that the school made it one of its core values. Principal, Lynnda Nadien, reflects on the impact that reflection has had on the students, the teachers and the school culture.

by Lynnda Nadien

As building principal, I am extremely proud of my students' accomplishments in terms of their academic and character development. This year alone, I have witnessed children fundraising, sharing ideas, and literally directing programs to support our school touchstone which includes respect, responsibility and reflection.

Taking time to reflect is very powerful for the entire operation. This allows us to know what works, and what does not work. Reflection has allowed us to build our team’s capacity for all facets of social and emotional well-being of children. Children are highly involved in all aspects as well and they have developed skills to be decision makers and to produce high quality work in all areas. Reflection is an ongoing process, as each day is a challenge and we feel that we have high expectations and each child is meeting those expectations, via reflection. For example, a first grader said she knew her “decision was not a good one”, but “if I can think about it, maybe I can do better tomorrow.”

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Topics: school climate, assessment, Reflection

Celebrating, Assessing and Setting Goals

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Mon, May 18, 2015 @ 09:05 AM

As the school year draws to a close, it’s time to celebrate successes, reflect on challenges. 

Dr. Thomas Lickona, psychologist and character education expert, has said that if schools wish to make a lasting difference in students’ character, “they need a comprehensive, holistic approach (one where schools) look at themselves through a moral lens and consider how virtually everything that goes on there affects the values and character of students.”

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Topics: assessment

3 Ways to Assess School Climate & Character

Posted by Rebecca Bauer on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 10:05 AM

IMG_3141At Premier Charter School, assessment is a big part of school life, because as Head of School, Julie Frugo, so wisely put it, “how do we know what we are doing is even working if we don't assess it?”

Recommended Strategies

Give students surveys about character & climate regularly

Julie said: “One of our main formal assessment strategies is a survey that is given to students each trimester, asking questions that directly correlate to the character initiatives and climate in the classroom. We also survey the teachers each trimester to get their input on what's working and what they need help with. This is all done through survey monkey so it's free ( or cheap because we have a paid account). There are great analytics with survey monkey so we are always looking at the data for trends and to set goals.

It is also beneficial to find ways to share that data with the students. In our middle school we have used the bulletin boards hanging outside classrooms to share the data. Students stopped to look at the data and ended up having conversations with teachers and peers about ideas for improvement. We have found that when you are intentional about being transparent and inclusive with the students, they will think critically about problem solving. They care about having their voices heard and they come up with ideas that we as adults wouldn't necessarily think of without their perspective.”

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Topics: school climate, assessment

Using Assessment for Sustainability and Impact in Character Education

Posted by Rebecca Sipos on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 @ 12:09 PM

By Matt Davidson


I have been an advocate for and practitioner of assessment in the field of character education for nearly 20 years. Much has changed in education over that time period. In particular, the importance of using data to guide practice has grown significantly. In the field of character education much of the early practice in the field was primarily driven by intuition and conviction—that is, by a general belief in the importance of positive character values, strong school culture, and a safe and engaging climate. Intuition and conviction aren’t in and of themselves wrong or misguided. However, the science of character and culture has evolved considerably and best practice in the field is now guided by both the art and science education.

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Topics: character education, character education in curriculum, assessment, assessment and character education