The CHARACTER COUNTS! School Agendas®
(With CHARACTER COUNTS! 5.0 Model Standard Information
for Student Development)

Our CHARACTER COUNTS! School Agendas have been reinvented to fully incorporate the CHARACTER COUNTS! 5.0 Model Standards to strengthen students’ academic competency, social/emotional growth, and character development. You can find the complete list of domains and their corresponding values/skills/character traits both below and here: Model Standards PDF Download. Initially written for teachers to read and implement, the domain information has been integrated into the agenda layouts using phrasing that will help make each concept relatable to students of varying ages.


Background. Historically, formal standards directing and guiding the educational mission have focused on defining grade-appropriate academic objectives. In the past decade, however, influential reform movements have broadened the goals of education to emphasize critical and creative thinking, decision-making and problem-solving abilities, social and emotional life skills, ethical character traits, and practical knowledge and competencies reflecting the demands of the modern workplace. [1]

Domains of Student Development. Thus, whether included in formal standards or not, educational institutions are expected to provide students with knowledge, skills, values, and character traits in three distinct domains of development:

1) Academic – instilling educational values, beliefs, and attitudes; developing learning-related character traits and cognitive skills.
2) Social/Emotional – instilling self-awareness and self-management skills, interpersonal skills, and positive life skills and character traits.
3) Character – instilling or strengthening core ethical values and moral character traits.

Objectives. These Model Standards present a comprehensive, integrated statement of critical educational outcomes deemed necessary to prepare students to:

1) Succeed in school (including college or other post-secondary education).
2) Succeed in the workplace.
3) Live happy, worthy, and fulfilling personal lives.
4) Become engaged, responsible, and productive citizens.

Educational Outcomes. To accomplish this, the Standards identify four types of educational outcomes:

1) Knowledge – what students should know and understand.
2) Skills – what students should be able to do.
3) Values – what students should value and believe.
4) Traits – what characteristics and attributes of character students should possess.

These Standards are a project of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Josephson Institute. They are designed to provide states, school districts, and individual schools with a comprehensive, fully integrated guide that will help them achieve ambitious but realistic educational objectives in the academic, social/emotional, and character domains. The Institute is committed to continually updating and revising these Model Standards in response to the experience, suggestions, and advice of thoughtful educators. 


A1. Motivated and Committed Learners
A1.1. Curiosity
A1.2. Personal Growth and Lifelong Learning
A2. Confident and Diligent Learners
A2.1. Growth Mindset
A2.2. Learning From Mistakes
A3. Responsible, Engaged, Autonomous, and Connected Learners
A3.1. Dedication to Education
A3.2. Full Engagement in Learning Process
A3.3. Self-Directed Learners
A3.4. Resourceful, Discerning Researchers
A3.5. Versatile Learners
A3.6. Connection to School Community
A4. Knowledgeable, Logical, Critical and Creative Thinkers
A4.1. Acquire, Remember Knowledge
A4.2. Understand Knowledge
A4.3. Apply Knowledge
A4.4. Analyze, Evaluate (Critical Thinking)
A4.5. Create, Innovate (Synthesis)
A4.6. Concentrate
A4.7. Perceptive, Observant
A4.8. Openness
A4.9. Intellectual Integrity
A4.10. Intellectual Independence
A4.11. Intellectual Humility
A4.12. Pursuit of Wisdom
A5. Effective Problem Solvers and Decision Makers
A5.1. Rational Decision Making
A5.2. Ethical Decision Making
A5.3. Effective Decision Making
A5.4. Best Possible Result


SE1. Self-Awareness
SE1.1. Emotions and Their Impact
SE1.2. Traits and Attributes
SE1.3. Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, Mindsets
SE1.4. Self-Acceptance
SE1.5. Concept of Happiness and Success
SE1.6. Capacity to Be a Change Agent
SE2. Self-Management
SE2.1. Expressing Emotions
SE2.2. Self-Discipline
SE2.3. Managing Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Other Negative Emotions
SE2.4. Resilience and Courage
SE2.5. Flexibility
SE2.6. Patience and Poise
SE2.7. Self-Improvement
SE2.8. Setting Goals
SE2.9. Planning
SE2.10. Managing Time
SE2.11. Organization
SE3. Social Awareness and Relationship Skills and Traits
SE3.1. Social Awareness
SE3.2. Empathy
SE3.3. Remorse
SE3.4. Positive Relationships
SE3.5. Effective Communication
SE3.6. Leadership
SE3.7. Collaboration and Teamwork
SE3.8. Conflict Management
SE4. Success Skills and Attitudes
SE4.1. Executive Function
SE4.2. Commitment to Excellence
SE4.3. Conscientiousness
SE4.4. Perseverance
SE4.5. Self-Confidence
SE4.6. Self-Motivation and Action
SE4.7. Positivity
SE4.8. Gratitude
SE4.9. Forgiveness
SE4.10. Technological Literacy
SE4.11. Financial Literacy


C1. Commitment to Character and Ethics
C1.1. Good Character – Components
C1.2. Importance of Character
C1.3. Responsibility for Character
C1.4. The Six Pillars of Character
C1.5. Ethical Concepts and Terms
C2. Trustworthiness
C2.1. Integrity
C2.2. Honest Communications
C2.3. Honest Actions
C2.4. Belief That Honesty Pays
C2.5. Promise-Keeping & Reliability
C2.6. Loyalty
C3. Respect
C3.1. Treating Others With Respect
C3.2. The Golden Rule
C3.3. The Basics of Respect
C3.4. School Climate
C3.5. Respecting Privacy
C3.6. Respecting Others’ Autonomy
C4. Responsibility
C4.1. Compliance: Doing What Is Required
C4.2. Ethics: Doing What Should Be Done
C4.3. Consequences for Their Words
C4.4. Consequences for Actions
C4.5. Developing and Using Positive Attitudes and Life Skills
C4.6. Self-Reliance and Prudent Money Management
C4.7. Learning From Experience
C4.8. Being Rational and Reflective
C4.9. Healthy Choices
C5. Fairness
C5.1. The Basics of Fairness
C5.2. Making Fair Decisions
C5.3. Proportionality
C5.4. Complexity of Fairness
C6. Caring
C6.1. The Basics of Caring
C6.2. Caring & Other Ethical Duties
C7. Good Citizenship
C7.1. Civil Rights
C7.2. Civil Responsibilities
C7.3 Respect for Authority & Law
C7.4. Participation in Democratic Process
C7.5. Improving School Climate
C7.6. Environmental Protection


This domain is concerned with instilling educational and academic knowledge and values and developing in each student the cognitive abilities, learning skills, and personal traits that will help them: 1) succeed in school (including college or other post-secondary education), 2) succeed in the workplace, 3) live happy, worthy, and fulfilling personal lives, and 4) become engaged, responsible, and productive citizens.

Students value education and are eager, committed learners who: 1) love learning as a source of personal enjoyment and growth; 2) believe that learning and education will enrich and improve their personal lives; and 3) are motivated to do well in school, graduate, and seek higher educational opportunities.

A1.1 Curiosity
Students demonstrate curiosity and an eagerness to learn new things about themselves, others, and the world around them. They seek answers by asking questions, reading, researching, exploring, experiencing, and experimenting.

A1.2. Personal Growth and Lifelong Learning
Students believe in the importance and value of continuous self-improvement, personal growth, and life-long learning and are committed to:

1) Increasing their knowledge, understanding, and skills through reading and advanced education.
2) Broadening their horizons through travel and other enriching experiences.

Students demonstrate self-confidence in their ability to learn what they need to know and to develop the personal attributes they need to succeed in school and the workplace.

A2.1. Growth Mindset
Students approach learning and other aspects of their lives with a growth mindset, [2] believing that with diligent effort they can:

1) Increase their basic intellectual abilities (i.e., intelligence), including the learning and thinking skills enabling them to master new and difficult concepts.
2) Develop life skills, personal attributes, and moral virtues (e.g., self-discipline, self-awareness, empathy, positivity, perseverance, resilience, integrity, and responsibility) that enhance success in all aspects of their lives.

A2.2. Learning From Mistakes
Students demonstrate a positive perspective about mistakes and unsuccessful efforts, viewing them not as failures, but as a necessary and unavoidable part of learning. Students always ask themselves: “What can I learn from this?”

1) Students understand the concept of “failing forward” — they learn from every failed attempt knowing they have gained new knowledge that will help them succeed in the future.
2) Students understand that persistence, patience, and self-discipline are often necessary to learning. They are willing to work hard and persevere in order to succeed.

Students accept and demonstrate personal responsibility for their education by becoming autonomous (self-directed) learners fully engaged in all aspects of the educational process and firmly connected to the school community.

A3.1. Dedication to Education
Students demonstrate personal responsibility for seizing educational opportunities. They show dedication and creativity in overcoming obstacles to learning and graduating.

A3.2. Full Engagement in the Learning Process
Students demonstrate full engagement in their learning by:
1) Being organized.
2) Coming to class prepared.
3) Attending all classes.
4) Being punctual.
5) Paying attention.
6) Remembering and following directions.
7) Participating in class.
8) Taking good notes.
9) Asking for help.
10) Completing all assignments promptly rather than procrastinating.
11) Establishing an effective study routine.
12) Using a planner or calendar.
13) Taking care of themselves (e.g., good diet, adequate sleep, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle).

A3.3. Self-Directed Learners
Students demonstrate responsibility for their learning by becoming autonomous learners who start and complete their school work without the need for direct supervision or external pressure.

A3.4. Resourceful and Discerning Researchers
Students demonstrate the ability to conduct broad-based, independent, and discerning research to answer questions that interest them and provide the source material for major papers and projects.

A3.5. Versatile Learners
Students are versatile learners, demonstrating the ability to learn by listening, seeing, and doing. They adapt and respond to diverse teaching strategies. [3]

A3.6. Connection to School Community
Students strive to form bonds with teachers, counselors, and other adults, and to classmates in their school community. They understand that this substantially improves their chances of doing well in school and avoiding dangerous and unhealthy behavior. [4]

1) Students believe they belong and that their teachers, counselors, and others care about them.
2) Students participate in school activities or clubs.

Students demonstrate progressively complex cognitive abilities to become knowledgeable, logical, critical, and creative thinkers, especially in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. [5]

A4.1. Ability to Acquire and Remember Knowledge
Students demonstrate the ability to acquire, recall, and retain basic and complex forms of information enabling them to:

1) Remember facts, lists, procedures and methods (e.g., the correct spelling of words, the boiling point of water, benefits of a good education, and the formula for determining volume).
2) Correctly identify and label (e.g., name shapes, identify from multiple options the correct statement of Aristotle’s Golden Mean).
3) Develop a substantial vocabulary and correctly state definitions of terms, the content of theories and wording of rules (e.g., define a hypotenuse, state rules of grammar).

A4.2. Ability to Understand Knowledge
Students demonstrate the ability to understand (i.e., comprehend) the meaning and significance of facts, assertions, ideas, concepts, and theories acquired by listening, through experiential learning or by reading expository (e.g., essays, editorials, science textbooks) or literary (novels, plays poems) writings. They demonstrate understanding by:

1) Restating, paraphrasing, explaining, and summarizing facts, definitions, methods, rules, theories, and concepts.
2) Preparing and delivering explanatory and persuasive arguments and presentations.
3) Drawing distinctions and perceiving differences and similarities (i.e., comparing and contrasting).
4) Understanding the literal meaning and the implications of information conveyed in all forms of nonfiction writings (e.g., textbooks, diagrams, graphs, bus schedules,instruction manuals, schematics, and blueprints).
5) Interpreting the literal and symbolic meaning of various forms of literary writing.
6) Illustrating or simplifying information with pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs.
7) Translating quantitative written statements verbal material to mathematical equations or visual representations (and vice versa).

A4.3. Ability to Apply Knowledge (Working Memory)
Students demonstrate the ability to apply their knowledge in new situations and in useful ways (e.g., using a currency conversion formula to determine the price of an object), including retrieving and applying separate strands of retained knowledge as needed to successfully perform tasks. (This is working memory, a critical executive function skill.)

A4.4. Ability to Analyze and Evaluate (Critical Thinking)
Students demonstrate increasingly sophisticated analytical and evaluative skills and a disposition toward critical thinking, including the ability to:

1) Organize, classify, and categorize information.
2) Identify the organizational structure, component parts and essential elements of written and oral communications and creative works.
3) Identify and take into account factors that might affect the accuracy and validity of their own personal beliefs and conclusions.
4) Challenge, question, and test the accuracy and validity of recommendations, claims, and assertions by identifying and taking into account: a) internal inconsistencies, b) logical flaws, c) unproven or unstated assumptions, d) the existence of contradictory evidence and opinions, e) the currency and pertinence of data, and f) factors that bear on the objectivity and reliability of the sources of information (e.g., credentials, prejudice, bias, attitudes, motivations, and conflicts of interest).
5) Evaluate the relevance and weight assigned to specific evidence or arguments by: a) distinguishing between facts, opinions, speculations, and feelings and b) considering the expertise, personal knowledge, character, and credibility of the source.
6) Identify and describe strengths and weaknesses, and constructively express informed evaluative judgments (i.e., criticism), concerning the merit of oral communications (e.g., speeches, debates), writings (e.g., news reports, editorials, and research studies), performances (e.g., acting, singing) and artistic works (e.g., sculptures, paintings, symphonies).

A4.5. Ability to Create and Innovate (Synthesis)
Students demonstrate creative thinking, innovativeness, originality, and an openness to challenge assumptions, traditions, and preconceptions by re-classifying, re-categorizing, re-organizing, or rearranging information; assembling, combining, integrating, and reconciling divergent theories and approaches; and by supplementing existing theories and explanations with new perspectives or approaches. Using these high-level cognitive skills students are able to:

1) Devise original, fresh, and unique ideas (i.e., “thinking outside the box”) to solve problems, to improve current practices or develop wholly new approaches.
2) Produce original and inventive creative works (e.g., literature, art, or technology).

A.4.6. Ability to Concentrate
Students understand the importance of attentiveness and demonstrate the ability to concentrate (i.e., give focused, undivided attention) in class and while studying by avoiding distractions and focusing on the task of learning.

A4.7. Perceptive and Observant
Students demonstrate perceptiveness, keen observation skills, and discernment while reading, listening, and watching. They pay attention to detail, noting anomalies or inconsistencies, and asking questions to resolve doubts and discover connections and patterns in seemingly unrelated events.

A4.8. Openness
Students demonstrate openness to new and different ideas and experiences by:

1) Considering (i.e., being open to) divergent and opposing viewpoints and alternative ideas and approaches.
2) Their eagerness to go to new places and try new things.

A4.9. Intellectual Integrity
Students demonstrate the trait of intellectual integrity by:

1) Being sincere (i.e., not using knowledge or argumentation skills to assert or defend positions they don’t sincerely believe).
2) Their willingness to challenge and re-assess their own assumptions, beliefs, and conclusions, to admit errors or logical weaknesses and to change their beliefs and positions in response to new evidence or arguments.

A4.10. Intellectual Independence
Students demonstrate the trait of intellectual independence by thinking for themselves, rather than adopting thoughts and values of peers or other external sources without first critically evaluating their merit.

A4.11. Intellectual Humility
Students demonstrate the trait of intellectual humility by acknowledging that:

1) There is often more than one right answer.
2) What they think they know might be incorrect or incomplete.
3) Their judgment might be distorted by conflicts of interest, prejudices, or preconceptions.

A4.12. Pursuit of Wisdom
Students understand the difference between being smart and being wise. They seek wisdom, an advanced mental competence that combines intelligence, experience, and common sense to create the ability to make judgments that reflect a deep understanding of facts, opinions, theories, and human nature.

Students understand that their competence and character will be judged in terms of the choices they make. They demonstrate the ability to employ critical and creative thinking skills to solve problems and make rational, ethical, and effective decisions that produce the best possible result. [6]

A5.1. Rational Decision Making
Students demonstrate the ability to employ a rational process that avoids rationalizations and elevates logic over emotions. The rational process includes:

1) Identifying long-term and short-term objectives.
2) Devising alternative courses of action to achieve the objectives.
3) Foreseeing potential consequences to each person or group (i.e., the stakeholder) affected by the decision.
4) Choosing the course of action most likely to produce the optimum (i.e., best possible) result.
5) Monitoring the effectiveness of the decision and making adjustments as necessary to achieve the objectives.

A5.2. Ethical Decision Making
Students demonstrate the ability to discern the ethical implications of their choices by systematically considering core ethical principles and the discipline to do what they think is right even when it is difficult, risky, or personally costly. [7]

1) Students understand that they are morally and legally accountable for the consequences of their decisions (including a decision not to decide).
2) Students evaluate their choices in terms of core ethical principles (e.g., honesty, loyalty, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, kindness, and good citizenship) and they eliminate any option that is illegal or unethical.
3) Students understand that in dilemmas where ethical principles compete (e.g., honesty versus kindness, loyalty versus fairness), they should choose the option most likely to produce the greatest good for the greatest number (i.e., the best possible result).

A5.3. Effective Decision Making
Students demonstrate the ability to make effective decisions that efficiently (using the least amount of time and resources) accomplish the desired result without causing unintended and undesirable consequences.

A5.4. Best Possible Result
Students understand that most problems can be solved and most situations can be addressed in a variety of ways that are effective and ethical. They take responsibility for evaluating these options and choosing the one most likely to produce the best possible result, an outcome that honors ethical principles, preserves trust, and produces the most good and minimizes harm.


This domain is concerned with non-cognitive skills and traits, including: self-awareness and self-management (e.g., the ability to identify and regulate emotions), interpersonal social skills (e.g., the ability to empathize and communicate clearly and to form and sustain positive personal relationships), and positive life skills and traits (e.g., executive functioning, goal-setting, planning, time management, perseverance, resilience, and conscientiousness).

Students demonstrate self-awareness and the skills of introspection and reflection by identifying and understanding their emotions, values, attitudes, motivations, mindsets, and personal attributes.

SE1.1. Emotions and Their Impact
Students demonstrate the ability to identify, label, verbalize, and understand the emotions they experience, the sorts of situations that cause them, and how their emotions influence their actions.

1) Students monitor their emotions and how they influence the way they perceive and respond to situations.
2) Students recognize and guard against a tendency to exaggerate in their own minds the severity and duration of the consequences of mistakes, embarrassing moments, failures, rejections, and other negative events.
3) Students know to seek help from trusted adults or mental health professionals if they experience severe and prolonged depression or the inclination to harm themselves or others.

SE1.2. Traits and Attributes
Students demonstrate the ability to accurately identify their dominant personality traits and their physical, mental, emotional, and moral attributes so that they can build on their strengths and improve their deficiencies.

SE1.3. Values, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Mindsets
Students demonstrate the ability to identify and understand their core values (i.e., what is really important to them), beliefs, opinions, attitudes, and mindsets and how they influence their feelings and actions. (For example, if the approval of others is a core value, they may be more vulnerable to peer pressure; or if they have a negative mindset, they may refuse to undertake new challenges.)

SE1.4. Self-Acceptance
Though students are committed to continuous self-improvement, they are sufficiently comfortable “being themselves” to resist peer or other external pressure to change into someone they are not and don’t want to be.

SE1.5. Positive Concept of Happiness and Success
Students adopt a positive concept of personal happiness and success that goes beyond wealth, status, and fun. Students believe they will experience happiness and feel successful when they:

1) Experience and express gratitude for all the things in their lives that give them comfort, pleasure, pride, or joy.
2) Derive pleasure and pride from their achievements.
3) Pursue their full potential (self-actualization) by acquiring knowledge and wisdom, creating fulfilling personal relationships, and engaging in activities that broaden their horizons and enrich their minds.
4) Find value and gratification in selfless service that makes a positive difference in the lives of others.

SE1.6. Capacity to Be a Change Agent
Students demonstrate the ability to accurately assess current conditions (i.e., the way things are) and have the ability to envision how things could be better (i.e., the way things ought to be). They recognize their capacity to be a positive change agent in their families, school, community, and the world.

Students understand that they have the power and responsibility to regulate their emotions, attitudes, and actions. They strive to exercise self-discipline so they can take full advantage of their strengths and virtues and effectively resist negative emotions and impulses.

SE2.1. Expressing Emotions
Students demonstrate the ability to verbalize positive and negative emotions at appropriate times and in appropriate ways that strengthen their relationships and advance their goals.

SE2.2. Self-Discipline
Students demonstrate the trait of self-discipline (i.e., will power) by:

1) Doing what they should do even when they might be able to get away with misbehavior (e.g., behaving and doing their work even when they have a substitute teacher or their teacher is out of the room).
2) Doing what they need to do (e.g., chores, homework, confronting a problem) without procrastination or excuses.
3) Resisting temptations and urges for immediate gratification. [8]

SE2.3. Managing Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Other Negative Emotions
Students demonstrate a basic understanding of and an ability to apply proven strategies to help them either manage or eradicate debilitating negative emotions (including stress, anxiety, depression, frustration, and persistent negative thinking) that can cause suffering, impair judgment, jeopardize relationships, or lead them to engage in self-defeating, unhealthy, unethical, or illegal conduct. [9]

SE2.4. Resilience and Courage
Students demonstrate the traits of resilience and courage by maintaining a positive outlook, overcoming fear, and drawing on their inner strength to muster the will to bounce back from the pain and grief of personal traumas and tragedies, disappointments, failures, and misfortunes. They are able to put their negative experiences behind them and move forward with confidence and optimism. [10]

SE2.5. Flexibility
Students recognize the potential of unexpected and undesirable changes that can cause distress and hinder their ability to perform (e.g., a new teacher in the middle of a semester, a death or divorce in the family). They demonstrate the trait of flexibility by adapting to changes and adjusting their attitudes, approaches, or actions in order to cope with and get the best possible result from the new situation.

SE2.6. Patience and Poise
Students demonstrate the traits of patience and poise by enduring delay, discomfort, inconvenience, difficulty, annoyance, and provocation with composure and without complaint. They wait their turn quietly and control any impulse to act out in frustration.

SE2.7. Self-Improvement
Students are committed to continual self-improvement. They seek and demonstrate the ability to constructively receive positive and negative feedback and to alter their attitudes and behavior in response to valid criticism. Students seek to improve their social and emotional skills and their chances of being happy and successful by identifying and eliminating bad habits, strengthening weak attributes, and developing positive traits such as self-discipline, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and optimism.

SE2.8. Setting Goals
Students demonstrate self-management by formulating and prioritizing short-term and long-term goals related to school, career, and personal life. They identify intermediate objectives to help them reach their goals.

SE2.9. Planning
Students demonstrate the ability to formulate and follow specific plans to meet their goals.

SE2.10. Managing Time
Students know basic principles of organizational and time-management strategies and use these strategies to manage their responsibilities effectively and efficiently.

SE2.11. Organization
Students demonstrate the ability to organize their work and possessions (e.g., notebooks, school papers, lockers) in an orderly and efficient manner to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and success.

Students employ interpersonal and social skills and traits (e.g., empathy, consideration, the ability to listen and communicate) to guide appropriate behavior and create positive relationships and meaningful connections to family members, classmates, peers, teachers, and others.

SE3.1. Social Awareness
Students demonstrate social awareness by:

1) Demonstrating the ability to identify what another person is feeling (e.g., happy, sad, disappointed, confused, angry), what another person intends or wants (e.g., whether an offensive comment was accidental or malicious, when a person is seeking approval), and 3) they are able to “read between the lines” and extract unstated messages conveyed by the choice of words, the tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, silence, and other nonverbal cues (e.g., knowing someone is upset even when they insist they are fine).
2) Demonstrating an understanding of how the unique backgrounds, experiences, values, ideologies, and characteristics of individuals influence the way these individuals interpret and react to events and communications.
3) Accurately assessing how they are perceived by others (e.g., they can tell whether they are valued, trusted, respected, or liked).
4) Perceiving how others react to their statements and nonverbal communications.
5) Recognizing when a friend requires adult help to cope with severe emotional distress.

SE3.2. Empathy
Students display the trait of empathy (the disposition and ability to sympathetically understand and personally identify with the emotional states, needs, and feelings of others) by consoling, comforting, calming, supporting, and encouraging others.

SE3.3. Remorse
Students understand the importance to relationships of feeling and expressing sincere remorse to those they have wronged. They accept responsibility and apologize for injuries and offenses caused by their actions and they seek to make amends.

SE3.4. Positive Relationships
Students seek to establish and maintain healthy, positive, mutually gratifying personal relationships with their teachers, classmates and others as a source of support, comfort, companionship, and intellectual stimulation.

1) Students demonstrate a willingness to alter their attitudes and conduct when necessary to reduce or prevent disharmony, generate respect and trust, and increase intimacy (provided such changes do not require them to compromise their values or integrity).
2) Students understand that meaningful and lasting friendships often require unselfishness, patience, understanding, acceptance, and loyalty.

SE3.5. Effective Communication
Students demonstrate the ability to:

1) Send, receive, and correctly interpret information, ideas, thoughts, desires, and needs by both verbal and nonverbal communication.
2) Be assertive without being offensive or arrogant.

SE3.6. Leadership
Students demonstrate the ability to build trust, inspire confidence, motivate, and positively influence individuals and groups by the use of reasoned argument, persuasion, inspiration, negotiation, and by setting an example. They are able to encourage and empower others with constructive criticism and timely praise. They know how to organize groups and build teams, mediate conflicts, build consensus, and understand and articulate the thoughts of a group.

SE3.7. Collaboration and Teamwork
Students demonstrate the ability and willingness to pursue common goals as part of a team, constructively participate in cooperative learning, and communicate effectively in cross-cultural and multi-lingual settings (i.e., with people who have diverse styles, views, and backgrounds).

SE3.8. Conflict Management
Students demonstrate the ability to recognize actual and potential conflict situations, and employ strategies to anticipate, avoid, and de-escalate conflicts and to resolve disputes peacefully.

Students demonstrate and continually seek to enhance the values, skills, and traits that increase personal happiness and the successful achievement of their academic, personal, and career goals.

SE4.1. Executive Function
Students demonstrate executive function, the ability to employ a multitude of crucial academic, social and emotional skills in performing tasks, sometimes in new and chaotic settings. [11]

SE4.2. Commitment to Excellence
Students derive pleasure and pride from a job well done and pursue excellence in all they do. They understand the importance of effort, diligence, and hard work and they always strive to do their best and achieve the best possible result.

SE4.3. Conscientiousness
Students demonstrate the trait of conscientiousness by persisting with diligent efforts to complete tasks well, whether or not there is an external reward, and regardless of how difficult or boring the task is. They can be counted on to reliably following through on their commitments and plans. [12]

SE4.4. Perseverance
Students demonstrate the trait of perseverance by continuing to perform their responsibilities and pursue their goals with vigor and tenacity despite frustrations, mistakes, setbacks, and other obstacles that make their task difficult or seem impossible. They resist temptations and pressures to give up or quit, choosing instead to persist as long as they are able.

SE4.5. Self-Confidence
Students demonstrate confidence in their abilities and inner strength to succeed and endure difficulties, failures, and other forms of adversity. In social situations they are assertive and willing to state their opinions despite the risk of disapproval, criticism, or rejection.

SE4.6. Self-Motivation and Action
Students demonstrate the ability to motivate themselves to begin a task and to independently generate ideas, responses, and problem-solving strategies.

1) Students understand that there can be no success without action and that they must be bold, proactive, and decisive in the pursuit of their plans, goals, dreams, and responsibilities.
2) Students do not procrastinate.

SE4.7. Positivity
Students demonstrate the trait of positivity by choosing to be optimistic, enthusiastic, hopeful, and cheerful. Students sustain their positive outlook based on the following beliefs:

1) Positive attitudes produce positive results — positive people are more likely to achieve their goals, feel successful, have good relationships, have better health, and live longer than those with negative outlooks.
2) Happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance or fact (i.e., if they think they are happy, they are) and that, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet says, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
3) There are positive aspects (i.e., the silver lining) in all experiences. One can characterize any experience in terms of its positive aspects (e.g., after a fire destroying most of his possessions, a positive person can feel genuinely fortunate and grateful that no one was hurt).

SE4.8. Gratitude
Students demonstrate the trait of gratitude by consistently appreciating and expressing thanks for the good things in their lives (i.e., they count their blessings). They invariably and graciously express gratitude for gifts, favors, compliments, and services received. (While positive people see the glass as half full, grateful people are thankful for the half they have rather than resentful about the half they don’t.)

SE4.9. Forgiveness
Students recognize that resentments, regrets, and grudges diminish their ability to enjoy their lives and can prevent them from moving forward. They demonstrate the ability to forgive others and to let go of negative feelings so they can get on with their lives.

SE4.10. Technological Literacy
Students demonstrate competence in the ability to choose, learn, and safely and ethically use various current and emerging technologies to communicate socially and professionally, conduct research, acquire diverse perspectives, and gain new knowledge and skills that will enhance their analytical and critical thinking skills.

SE4.11. Financial Literacy
By the time they graduate high school, students demonstrate a basic understanding of personal financial management. They understand the value of being prudent, skeptical, and well-informed when making financial decisions, especially if they involve borrowing money or living beyond their means. [13]


This domain is concerned with educational outcomes that help students develop the constellation of moral and ethical qualities that define good character. Successful efforts to build good character will result in a safe caring, and respectful school climate that provides students with standards of right and wrong and instills in them ethical consciousness, commitment and competencies that will help them achieve personal, school, and career goals; live happy, worthy and fulfilling lives; and become engaged, responsible, and productive citizens. [14]

Students understand the personal and social importance and the basic terminology and concepts of character and ethics. They strive to acquire the knowledge, adopt the values, and develop the skills, traits, and conduct patterns of a person of good character, and they seek to govern their choices and actions by universal moral/ethical principles.

C1.1. Components of Good Character
Students understand that good character consists of attributes reflecting positive moral values, traits, dispositions, habits and attitudes. They know that their character (i.e., who they are inside) will define them, shape their reputation, and determine how they are likely to act. (For example, will they be generous or indifferent to a person in need, kind or cruel to a person who made a mistake, honest or devious in dealing with others?)

C1.2. Importance of Character
Students understand that good character is more important to success, meaningful relationships, self-respect, and the esteem of others than other commonly valued attributes, including intelligence, beauty, talent, money, and status. Character not only defines who they are, it determines their future.

C1.3. Responsibility for Character
Students understand that their character is a product of their values and choices (i.e., the formation of their character lies in their own hands). Students accept and demonstrate personal responsibility to create and improve their character by conscientious efforts to strengthen their commitment and adherence to ethical values and principles.

C1.4. The Six Pillars of Character
Students understand that ethical beliefs and actions are the foundation of good character (i.e., character is ethics in action). They seek to develop and display the virtues and traits arising from universal ethical values known as the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship.

C1.5. Knowledge of Ethical Concepts and Terms
Students understand that the concepts of character and ethics refer to principles that establish standards of right and wrong; these standards define morality and prescribe how a good person should behave. They understand that:

1) There is a difference between universal ethical values (beliefs about virtue and morality consistent across time and cultures) and personal ethical values (personal beliefs about right and wrong, often based on political or religious convictions that are not universal because people of character disagree on whether they establish ethical duties for everyone. [15]
2) Ethical duties and moral obligations are different from, and sometimes more demanding and important than, legal duties. For example, civil disobedience (the deliberate and open violation of unjust laws) is an expression of an ethical duty.
3) “Ethics” and “values” are not interchangeable terms. Ethics concerns what is right and wrong, whereas values are simply what matters to us (e.g., health and wealth). A person of good character has deeply held ethical values.

Students develop and demonstrate the character trait of trustworthiness. They understand that trust is an essential ingredient in meaningful and lasting relationships, as well as school and career success, and they strive to earn the trust of others by demonstrating the ethical virtues of integrity, honesty, promise-keeping, and loyalty.

C2.1. Integrity
Students demonstrate integrity by adhering to ethical principles, acting honorably and assuring that there is consistency between their beliefs, words, and actions. They safeguard their integrity and demonstrate their character by exercising the moral courage to do the right thing even when it is difficult or detrimental to their relationships, social standing, careers, or economic well-being (i.e., they do the right thing even when it costs more than they want to pay).

C2.2. Honest Communications
Students recognize the central role honesty plays in generating trust, and they demonstrate honesty in their communications in three ways:

1) Truthfulness. Students are truthful; everything they say is true to the best of their knowledge (i.e., they do not lie).
2) Sincerity. Students are sincere. This means they always convey the truth as best they can, avoiding all forms of accidental or intentional deception, distortion, or trickery (e.g., it is dishonest to tell only part of the truth or to omit important facts in an effort to create a false impression).
3) Candor. Students know that certain relationships (e.g., parent-child, teacher-student, best friends) create a very high expectation of trust. In these relationships, honesty requires them to be candid and forthright by volunteering information to assure that they are conveying the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (e.g., a student who accidentally spills soda on a school computer must voluntarily tell the teacher without being asked; a student who breaks her mother’s favorite vase must tell her mother voluntarily).

C2.3. Honest Actions
Students demonstrate honesty by honoring the property rights of others (they do not steal) and playing by the rules in sports and other activities (they do not cheat).

C2.4. Belief That Honesty Pays
Students believe that honesty and integrity will help them succeed in school and life and strengthen their relationships; they reject common rationalizations for lying and cheating as false and short-sighted (e.g., one has to lie or cheat in order to succeed, everyone cheats, it’s only cheating if you get caught).

C2.5. Promise-Keeping, Reliability, Dependability
Students demonstrate trustworthiness by being reliable and dependable, being cautious about making promises and commitments, and conscientious about keeping the promises and commitments they make.

C2.6. Loyalty
Students demonstrate trustworthiness by being loyal and standing up for their friends, family, school, and country. Proper demonstrations of loyalty include not disclosing embarrassing information or secrets confided in them (unless keeping the secret could result in serious harm) and refraining from gossip that could hurt feelings or damage reputations or relationships. Loyalty is not an excuse to justify lying or other unethical conduct.

Students believe that the well-being and dignity of all people is important. They treat all individuals with respect, judging them on their character and ability without regard to race, religion, sexual orientation, political ideology, gender, age, or other physical or personal characteristics.

C3.1. Treating Others With Respect
Students understand that they are not morally required to respect everyone in the sense of holding them in high esteem, but they are required to treat everyone with respect regardless of their personal assessment of the person’s character or worth (e.g., we treat criminals with respect, not because they deserve it, but because of who we are).

C3.2 The Golden Rule
Students understand the universal Golden Rule (“do unto others as you would have them do unto you”) and apply it as a standard of respect. [16]

C3.3. The Basics of Respect
Students demonstrate respect by:

1) Being civil, courteous, and polite (i.e., they use good manners).
2) Refraining from offensive and disrespectful profanity, insults and gestures.
3) Listening respectfully to others even if they think what’s being said is wrong or foolish.
4) Paying attention to the well-being of others and striving to make them feel comfortable and welcome.
5) Learning about and treating with respect the customs and traditions of people who come from different cultures.

C3.4. School Climate of Respect and Kindness
Students demonstrate respect by seeking to create and support a kind, caring, respectful, and emotionally and physically safe school climate. They refrain from and discourage others from engaging in violence, threats, intimidation, and other conduct intended or likely to cause physical injury, emotional pain, humiliation, embarrassment, shame, or a feeling of being left out or excluded. This includes:

1) Unwelcome physical touching (i.e., they keep their hands to themselves).
2) Cruel, unkind, or deliberately hurtful or embarrassing gossip.
3) Physical intimidation, cyberbullying, harassment, and mean-spirited teasing or taunting.

C3.5. Respecting Privacy
Students demonstrate respect by acknowledging and honoring each other’s right to privacy and personal space, including the right to determine whether, how, and when information about their personal lives and thoughts will be revealed (e.g., it is disrespectful to read another’s diary, look through another’s backpack, hack their Facebook page, or eavesdrop on their conversations).

C3.6. Respecting Others’ Autonomy
Students demonstrate respect by acknowledging and honoring the desire and right of others to govern themselves (i.e., autonomy), make decisions about their lives and be free from oppressive and offensive behavior and unwanted interference in their lives. This includes:

1) Taking the desires, opinions, perspectives, values, and goals of others seriously.
2) Refraining from repetitive arguments, tirades, rants, insults, ridicule, manipulation, or coercion to cause others to change their opinions or actions.
3) Providing others with the information they need to make informed judgments about their own lives rather than concealing the information to advance their own goals or to shield them from potential bad choices. (Example: Suppose an old boyfriend of your best friend gives you a note to give to your friend but you think it would be a terrible idea if your friend started communicating with him again – the principle of autonomy says you should deliver the note.)

Students demonstrate the trait of responsibility by taking ownership of their lives and acknowledging their power to choose what they think (including their attitudes and mindsets), say, and do. They are accountable for the consequences of their choices.

C4.1. Compliance: Doing What Is Required
Students accept responsibility to do what they are required to do by their parents, teachers, coaches, and other adults who have legitimate authority. Students also are careful to keep their own promises and commitments.

C4.2. Ethics: Doing What Should Be Done
Students accept responsibility to do what they should do based on their personal values and universal ethical principles such as the Six Pillars of Character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness, and citizenship).

C4.3. Consequences for Their Words
Students accept responsibility for the consequences of what they say, recognizing that their words can have serious and lasting impact on others (e.g., insults can harm another’s self-image and revealing secrets can destroy relationships). They seek to affirm, support, and encourage others rather than humiliate, discourage, or demean them.

C4.4. Consequences for Their Actions
Students accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions and inactions, recognizing obligations to:

1) Foresee and avoid harmful outcomes, including unintended but predictable consequences.
2) Help others in need (e.g., charity).
3) Protect others from harm or abuse (e.g., stand up for a student who is bullied).

C4.5. Developing and Using Positive Attitudes and Life Skills
Students acknowledge their responsibility to enhance their chances of success in school and life, in the quality of their relationships, and in their own well-being and happiness by:

1) Consciously choosing positive attitudes and mindsets (including optimism, enthusiasm, gratitude, and cheerfulness) and rejecting self-defeating attitudes (e.g., pessimism, cynicism, defeatism, and hopelessness). (See SE4.7.)
2) Developing critical self-management and social skills traits, including: self-discipline, resiliency, perseverance, stress management, organization and time management, planning and goal-setting, initiative, flexibility, poise, patience, communication, collaboration, and an uncompromising commitment to excellence. (See SE2, SE3, SE4.)

C4.6. Self-Reliance and Prudent Money Management
Students demonstrate the trait of self-reliance by striving to live independently, relying on their own resources, capabilities,
judgment, and emotional strength, rather than depending on others to do things for them or tell them what to think or feel. To
achieve self-reliance, students:

1) Manage their affairs so they can pay their own way and not be a burden on others.
2) Live within their means, avoiding debt and other obligations that generate unhealthy pressure.

C4.7. Learning From Experience
Students accept their responsibility to review and learn from all experiences. They hold themselves accountable to determine what they could have done differently to get a better result and what they should do in the future.

C4.8. Being Rational and Reflective
Students demonstrate responsibility by being rational (using reason and logic to make or justify decisions) and reflective (thinking ahead to anticipate the consequences of choices, and thinking back to draw lessons from what happened). They use critical thinking and decision making skills to avoid rationalizations and excuses and to make rational, prudent choices.

C4.9. Healthy Choices
Students demonstrate responsibility by making healthy choices to protect their well-being by eating well, getting sufficient sleep and exercise, and by refraining from the use of illegal drugs and other intoxicating or mind-altering substances. They do not abuse prescription drugs, use alcohol or tobacco, or engage in self-abusive practices (e.g., cutting, overeating, anorexia, bulimia).

Students strive to be fair and just in all their actions.

C5.1. The Basics of Fairness

1) Take turns.
2) Play by the rules.
3) Give due credit to others.
4) Ask for and take only their fair share.

They don’t:

1) Claim credit for the work of others.
2) Recklessly or falsely blame or accuse others.
3) Take advantage of another’s mistakes or ignorance.

C5.2. Making Fair Decisions
In making decisions that affect others, students demonstrate the trait of fairness by:

1) Being open-minded and objective.
2) Giving everyone affected by a decision the chance to tell their side of the story.
3) Considering the merits of all evidence relevant to a just resolution.
4) Being impartial.
5) Consciously setting aside personal feelings (bias or favoritism) that might interfere with objectivity.

C5.3. Proportionality
Students understand that the principle of fairness requires that imposed consequences for misconduct are proportional to the harm caused (i.e., the more serious the harm, the more serious the consequence). They know that the punishment should fit the crime (it’s neither too lenient nor too severe).

C5.4. Complexity of Fairness
Students demonstrate the ability to identify alternative theories for determining what is or is not fair in the way benefits and burdens are distributed. [17]

Students understand that caring — including the virtues of compassion, kindness, benevolence, altruism, charity, generosity, and sharing — is the heart of ethics. They strive to demonstrate a concern for the well-being of others by displaying compassion for those in pain or in need by providing support in the form of donations and/or personal service.

C6.1. The Basics of Caring
Students demonstrate caring by:

1) Being kind, compassionate, and empathetic to everyone (even those who don’t seem to deserve it).
2) Expressing support and sympathy at appropriate times in appropriate ways.
3) Being charitable in judging others by assuming good. intentions and by being forgiving and merciful.
4) Being charitable to causes and individuals.

They are not:

1) Cruel.
2) Indifferent or apathetic.
3) Callous.
4) Unforgiving.

C6.2. Caring Moderates Other Ethical Duties
Students understand that the virtue of caring frequently interacts with other ethical principles requiring them to be careful that:

1) Honesty is not causing them to be unnecessarily hurtful or offensively blunt (e.g., telling a person their speech was absolutely awful).
2) In seeking to impose justice, they do not miss opportunities to be merciful and forgiving.
3) While respecting another’s privacy, they do not condone or ignore dangerous and harmful conduct.
4) Their sense of responsibility is proportionate to their actual level of authority and moral duty and that they do not ignore their own needs.

Students demonstrate good citizenship by fulfilling their civic and social responsibilities. They contribute to the well-being of their communities (including their school, neighborhood, and country).

C7.1. Civil Rights
Students understand and appreciate the rights and liberties embodied in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including:

1) Freedom of speech and religion.
2) The right to vote and run for elected office.
3) The right to be treated fairly under the law.

C7.2. Civil Responsibilities
Students understand and strive to fulfill the responsibilities of citizenship, including: a duty to abide by the law, respect the rights of others, participate in the democratic process, protect the environment, and volunteer to improve their school and community. They also understand additional responsibilities of adult citizenship, including paying taxes and serving on juries.

C7.3 Respect for Authority and the Law
Students demonstrate good citizenship by contributing to the orderliness and fairness of society by respecting authority, obeying rules and laws (unless a higher moral duty justifies civil disobedience) and taking action (including reporting) to protect fellow citizens from dangerous or harmful conduct.

1) Students understand the special role that civil disobedience plays in the democratic process and the extraordinary conditions that must exist to justify unlawful conduct.
2) Students set an example for their peers, abiding by laws and following rules even when it is inconvenient (e.g., returning their shopping carts, respecting the 10-items-or-less rule in markets).

C7.4. Participation in the Democratic Process
Students demonstrate good citizenship by staying informed about matters important in their school and community so they can formulate thoughtful positions, passionately advocate for their beliefs, engage in respectful and informed discussions, vote intelligently, and, if they choose, seek elected or appointed leadership positions.

1) Students exercise their civil rights fairly and responsibly. They examine and evaluate political claims and allegations to determine for themselves what is true, and they maintain an open mind so they can assess the merits of others’ political positions.
2) Students maintain an open mind (i.e., a willingness to be persuaded) and demonstrate a willingness to re-examine their own positions and objectively consider the arguments and beliefs of others.

C7.5. Improving School Climate
Students demonstrate good citizenship by promoting and modeling responsible, respectful, caring, honest, and fair conduct to create and maintain a safe and positive school climate where all students feel physically and emotionally safe, cared for, and respected.

1) Students personally refrain from, and discourage others from, all forms of bullying and other forms of mean and unkind conduct.
2) Students do their share to make their school a clean, attractive, and comfortable place to learn and grow.

C7.6. Environmental Protection
Students demonstrate good citizenship by proactively engaging in conduct that conserves natural resources (e.g., reducing, reusing, and recycling, and using water and fuel conservatively). They also protect the natural environment from unnecessary destruction and all forms of pollution.

[1] These Standards draw heavily upon the hands-on experience of thousands of educators involved in the Josephson Institute’s CHARACTER COUNTS! school and student improvement programs. They also incorporate the most current research and theories including: positive school climate, connectedness, PBIS behavior modification, the growth mindset, executive function, change theory, emotional intelligence, multiple intelligences, and research-based instructional strategies. These Standards also incorporate provisions and recommendations included in the Common Core State Standards Initiative; the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ Framework of Student Outcomes and Support Systems; the Illinois Learning Standards for Social/Emotional Learning; the Kansas Social, Emotional, and Character Development Model Standards; the ASCD Whole Child Initiative, the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL); the Character Education Partnership; the Institute for Excellence & Ethics; the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs; and the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention.
[2] The growth mindset is a concept developed by Dr. Carol Dweck positing that all basic abilities, including intelligence and talents, can be developed through diligent effort. Dr. Dweck’s research shows that students who believe their intelligence and abilities are fixed and permanent (e.g., “I’m just no good in math” or “I can’t learn a foreign language”) are much less likely to tackle challenging tasks and persist in learning when they find the concepts difficult. In contrast, students who adopt the growth mindset show greater motivation, study harder, and get better grades in school and higher scores on standardized tests because they are more likely to focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They also demonstrate greater persistence in the face of difficulties because they have confidence that their efforts will pay off and that they will learn more and get smarter.
[3] Research demonstrates that individual students learn differently (e.g., left-brain or right-brain dominance, a preference for auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learning) and respond better to certain teaching strategies (e.g., lecture, discussion, or inquiry-based activities). However, students must develop the willingness and capacity to learn in all modalities and through various methods, as their teachers may not have the time to individualize the learning process to each student’s preferences.
[4] Establishing and maintaining meaningful connections and a positive social network is a crucial protective factor in helping young people avoid risky and unhealthy behaviors; it is also a major factor in developing greater resiliency. Students who feel connected to their school (by bonding with teachers, coaches, or classmates and by being involved in sports or other school activities) are less likely to: 1) use drugs or alcohol, 2) exhibit emotional distress, 3) demonstrate violent behavior, 4) attempt suicide, 5) become pregnant, 6) skip school, or 7) be involved in fighting, bullying, and vandalism. Connected students are also more likely to succeed academically and graduate.
[5] These standards recognize that cognitive skills are developmental (i.e., the capacity to engage in higher order learning skills generally progresses as children mature). Thus, expected outcomes must be aligned to the developmental stage and individual capacities of each student. These Standards incorporate but re-organize Benjamin Bloom’s classic six-level taxonomy of cognitive development (knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). They also incorporate specific performance-oriented complex thinking and learning competencies embodied in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems. The specific learning objectives of this section include both measurable product outcomes (e.g., performance of particular mental tasks measured in relation to specific levels of competency) and process outcomes (e.g., objectives focused on learning how to learn, where success is evaluated in relation to a student’s past performance and potential rather than as an objective measure of competence).
[6] Many experts in the field of social and emotional learning list responsible decision making as a core skill of that domain. We have unpacked the concept of responsible decision making and included the intellectual and analytical aspects of this skill within the academic domain and the ethical aspects within the character domain.
[7] The values and traits associated with ethical choices are fully discussed in the standards under C1.
[8] The ability to delay gratification has been linked to several positive outcomes including academic success, physical health, psychological health, and social competence.
[9] These Standards ask educators to provide students with tools and strategies to help them cope with common emotional traumas, including stress, anxiety, depression, grief, resentment, alienation, and feelings of inferiority. If these coping skills cannot be effectively taught in the school context, educators should provide students with guidance on where they can get help. Proven effective strategies to help students relax and reduce the negative impact of negativity, stress, anxiety, and depression include: 1) Mindful meditation, 2) Distraction — encouraging students to engage in activities that focus the mind on something else, 3) Physical exercise, 4) Listening to upbeat music, 5) Helping others, 6) Seeking the support of friends and family, and 8) Reframing — replacing negative thoughts with positive ones by: (a) identifying the negative belief or assumption behind the negative emotion, (b) challenging and disputing the belief or assumption, and (c) replacing the negative thought with a positive one by looking for a positive aspect of even a negative outcome (e.g., “I can do it but even if I fail I will learn something and I won’t have to worry about this anymore.”)
[10] Research documents that the trait of resilience (sometimes called grit) often determines who succeeds and who fails in school, the workplace, the athletic field, even the cancer ward. Resiliency can be strengthened through conscious effort. Ultimately, resilience is the product of a positive mindset — a way of looking at one’s experiences that permits one to not only cope with adversity, but to build success on the foundation of that adversity.
[11] There are multiple skills that define executive functioning. These Standards include them all in one form or another: remembering and applying learned information (i.e., working memory), self-awareness, self-monitoring and self-control (sometimes referred to as inhibition), concentration, goal-setting, planning and prioritizing, organizing, time-management, and flexibility. The concept underlying executive function is that students must employ these skills, sometimes simultaneously, in a seemingly infinite variety of real-life settings filled with distractions and demands that require concentration and flexibility. If we think of each skill as a musical instrument we must think of real world functioning as a performance by an orchestra. Each student must develop the ability to be the conductor of that orchestra, using all the instruments in a way that produces good music.
[12] Conscientiousness embraces several important attributes including self-discipline and the pursuit of excellence. Along with positivity and resilience, conscientiousness has proved to be a trait that yields lifelong benefits. Children who score high on tests measuring conscientiousness get better grades in high school and college; commit fewer crimes; stay married longer and live longer (they smoke and drink less and have fewer strokes, lower blood pressure, and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease). Conscientiousness is a better predictor of life success than I.Q.
[13] The range of relevant financial information students should know is extensive: how tax deductions affect earnings; what is required concerning the payment of taxes; how to interpret sales offers (e.g., “buy 2 get 1 free”) and compute the actual cost of products and services; how to use checks and balance a checkbook; how to use credit cards and calculate interest charges; how loans and interest work; and the nature and cost of insurance. Students also should have some knowledge of bankruptcy and the financial risks and consequences of gambling.
[14] Prominent character education advocates such as the Character Education Partnership and The Center for the 4th and 5th Rs define character as including two distinct sorts of qualities: moral character and performance character. They explicitly include qualities such as perseverance, self-discipline and diligence as goals of character education. These Model Standards agree that these are important qualities to be developed by schools but we treat the performance-centered attributes as success skills within the social and emotional domain. We limit the character domain to moral and ethical qualities.
[15] Educators in public schools must be cautious to avoid advocating any position on the morality of certain behaviors viewed as sinful by large segments of the population and proper by others. These include disagreements regarding the morality of such things as nudity, gambling, drinking, hunting, and pre-marital sex and a much more volatile group of issues including assisted suicide, abortion, and a range of issues concerning homosexuality. The deep and passionate disagreement on these issues among good and decent people demonstrates the inappropriateness of treating them as universal values within the definition of good character. These standards take no position on these issues. The crucial objective here is to encourage students to formulate their own beliefs on such topics, but to be respectful of those who believe otherwise.
[16] The Golden Rule (referred to as the rule of reciprocity in philosophical literature), though often associated with Christianity, has deep roots in every major religion and culture starting with Confucius in 557 B.C.: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” The common positive formulation of the concept — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — is accepted worldwide and should not be regarded simply as a religious precept.
[17] There are five major alternative theories of fairness: 1) Equality – everyone should get equal shares regardless of other factors; 2) Work – only those who worked should receive benefits; 3) Effort – shares should be allocated in proportion to effort (those who try hardest should get the most); 4) Seniority – benefits should be distributed in order of age or seniority (the oldest or the person who has been around longest gets priority treatment); 5) Productivity – benefits should be distributed in proportion to the productivity of the person (the best performers get the most).
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