11 Principles of Effective Character Education at a Glance

The 11 Principles of Effective Character Education are the cornerstone of CEP’s philosophy on effective character education. Each principle outlines vital aspects of character education initiatives that should not be overlooked in program implementation. The Quality Standards provide more specificity by including two to four items to address what each principle should “look like” when implemented.

  1. The school community promotes core ethical and performance values as the foundation of good character.
  2. The school defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
  3. The school uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach to character development.
  4. The school creates a caring community.
  5. The school provides students with opportunities for moral action.
  6. The school offers a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops their character, and helps them to succeed.
  7. The school fosters students’ self-motivation.
  8. The school staff is an ethical learning community that shares responsibility for character education and adheres to the same core values that guide the students.
  9. The school fosters shared leadership and long-range support of the character education initiative.
  10. The school engages families and community members as partners in the character-building effort.
  11. The school regularly assesses its culture and climate, the functioning of its staff as character educators, and the extent to which its students manifest good character.

How to Apply the Principles

Define: What is quality character education? (Principles 1, 2, 3)

Identify: What does a school with quality character education look like? (Principles 4, 5, 6, 7)

Organize: Who should be involved? (Principles 8, 9, 10)

Assess: Where are we now? Where do we want to go? How well are we doing? (Principle 11)