What's Happening in Character Education?

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

Not Divergent: Easily Measuring Students’ Character

Posted by Mark Liston on Tue, May 26, 2015 @ 12:05 PM

“So what makes you such a big deal?” asked Garen, the blunt 8th grader. I’m not exactly a rock star. I was speaking at his school about my tool that measures character strengths: the Character Growth Index (CGI).  I found Garen’s question entertaining.  “I developed CGI to see if you are ‘DIVERGENT’!”  His eyes bugged as he replied, “Scary but cool!”

Divergent is a best-selling book series among teens and now a movie with a sequel.  In a post-apocalyptic world (what else?), teens are tested for their greatest talent and must choose one of five groups to be in for the rest of their lives.  If they don’t qualify in the group they choose, they are either cast out or killed. Yes, kind of scary but a cool movie.

Character Growth Index isn’t really like the aptitude test in the movie.  What makes it attractive to educators is that, according to Drs. Marvin Berkowitz and Tom Lickona, CGI is, “…to our knowledge, the only valid, reliable test of character virtues for middle and high school students.”

Educators know that talent enables achievement but character sustains success, defines an individual’s reputation, and is a primary indicator of happiness and flourishing. Knowing our students’ character strength levels will provide a reliable indicator of their future success and well-being (Lippman, Moore, & McIntosh, 2011).  Better yet, if our students’ character strengths can be identified and measured over time, we have data to prove our character instruction is working… as we do in our academic instruction.

The character education movement is over 20 years old yet has never developed a character test.  Seems strange, doesn’t it? If you have ever tried to measure character, you will learn quickly WHY this is true:  Measuring character is really tricky!

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Topics: character education, assessment and character education

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