Stakeholder perceptions of an exemplary middle school character education program and its implications for school improvement

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Johncarlos M. Miller (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Carl Lashley

Abstract: Character education (CE) in schools has been reported to support a safe school environment in which adults and students can embrace core ethical values such as respect, fairness, and responsibility, for example (Pala, 2011). It has the power to not only “cultivate minds [but] nurture hearts” as well (Pala, 2011, p. 26). The creation of a safe teaching and learning environment in which students and staff engage in critical discourse of ethical issues related character development can produce an atmosphere of human beings who feel better about themselves and their work. As a result, one cannot overlook the implications for school improvement that character education presents for those courageous enough to purposefully and intently engage its implementation in schools. Given the troubling trends in today’s youth substantiated by research (Dahlberg, Toal, Swahn, & Behrens, 2005; Garofalo, Wolf, Kessel, Palfrey, & Durant, 1998; Lickona, 1996; Pena, Matthieu, Zayas, Masyn, & Caine, 2012), the purpose of this study was to investigate stakeholder perceptions of the influence of an exemplary character education program’s implementation in a middle school and its contribution to school improvement. This study was a qualitative interview study in which 19 participants from teachers, support staff, administrators, and a parent were asked their insight regarding the implementation of an exemplary character education program that was grounded in the Eleven Principles of Effective Character Education. The interview study coupled with document analysis was the approach necessary to address the central research question: How did the three-year implementation of an exemplary middle school character education program contribute to school improvement at a middle school that was recognized for its exemplary character education program? Over a three-year period of character education program implementation, BOA Middle, experienced reductions in its out-of-school suspensions by over 65%, increased staff attendance, reduced teacher turnover from 33% to 11%, was named a PCS district Highly Enhanced School, met 29 of 29 academic targets, was named a Positive Behavior Intervention Support Model School for the state due to its exemplary character education program, experienced high growth as determined by student achievement and state accountability data, and met federal accountability growth standards. Through this study, the following themes emerged regarding participants’ perceptions about the implementation of the exemplary character education program: • Character is Multidimensional • CE is 24/7/365 • Implementation requires consistency • CE fosters school improvement as Adults Lead and Students Achieve • School communities can support CE through Collaboration, Service Learning, and Reflection.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2016
Character education, Character education program, Moral education, School improvement, Values education
Moral education (Middle school)
Character $x Study and teaching (Middle school)
Values $x Study and teaching (Middle school)
School improvement programs
Affective education

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