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National & State Schools of Character Awards Program. Sponsored by. Leading the nation in helping schools develop people of good character for a just and compassionate society. What is the NSOC awards program?.

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National & State Schools of Character Awards Program

Sponsored by

Leading the nation in helping schools develop people of good character for a just and compassionate society.

what is the nsoc awards program
What is the NSOC awards program?

Character Education Partnership (CEP) selects approximately 10 schools and districts each year that exemplify CEP’s Eleven Principles.

National Schools of Character

serve as models and ambassadors,

receive a grant to provide outreach to other educators at CEP’s Forum and at their home site.

how do the nsoc lead the way
How do the NSOC lead the way?


Banner and award

NSOC logo and name

  • Local and national press coverage
how do the nsoc lead the way1
How do the NSOC lead the way?


Articles in annual NSOC publication

Pages on CEP’s website

Lesson plans and sample practices

how do the nsoc lead the way2
How do the NSOC lead the way?


Present at CEP Forum

Conduct trainings for other educators

who can apply
Who can apply?

Any U.S. public or private K-12 school engaged in character education for at least 3 years

Any district (or smaller administrative unit) engaged for 4 years

Not eligible? Consider applying for a

Promising Practices award.

what does the application consist of
What does the application consist of?

Application Cover Sheet completed online then printed

Demographics / Application Information page

7-page Narrative that explains how your initiative exemplifies the Eleven Principles (10 pages for districts)

15-page Portfolio with Table of Contents that provides supporting evidence for the Narrative (20 pages for districts)

A Self-Assessment Score Sheet that shows the results of your self-assessment according to the Quality Standards. More on this later!

what is the application process like
What is the application process like?

The NSOC application process requires a group effort.

The process is competitive. In 2008, state sponsors and CEP received 185 applications, selected 27 finalists, and named 10 winners.

Applications must be postmarked December 1, 2009. Finalists are selected in March. After site visits in March & April, a Blue Ribbon Panel selects the winners in May.

so why apply
So why apply?

Applicants find the process beneficial since it is a chance to conduct a thorough self-assessment and receive detailed feedback.

“This process allowed us to really focus on integrating character into everything we do—and keep a portfolio to tell our story.”

Applicants also receive a subscription to CEP’s electronic newsletter and an additional month to apply for a Promising Practices award.

where do i send my application
Where do I send my application?

If you are in a state that is participating in the State Schools of Character (SSOC) competitions, you send 4 copies of your application to your state sponsor.

All others submit their applications directly to CEP.

which states are ssoc states
Which states are SSOC states?

29 participating states (2010):
















New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York

North Carolina



South Carolina

South Dakota





West Virginia


how are applications evaluated
How are applications evaluated?

Evaluators use CEP’s Character Education Quality Standards to judge applications.

Download from

what are the quality standards
What are the Quality Standards?

A self-assessment tool derived from the Eleven Principles

Useful in designing an effective and comprehensive character education initiative

Useful to schools in assessing current efforts

Used to evaluate NSOC/SSOC applications

what are the eleven principles
What are the Eleven Principles?

Broad principles that define excellence in character education

Based on the practices of effective schools

cep s eleven principles what is quality character education
CEP’s Eleven Principles:What is quality character education?

Effective character education:

Principle 1: Promotes core ethical values.

Principle 2: Defines “character” comprehensively to include thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Principle 3: Uses a comprehensive, intentional, and proactive approach.

cep s eleven principles what does a school with quality character education look like
CEP’s Eleven Principles:What does a school with quality character education look like?

Principle 4: Creates a caring school community.

Principle 5: Provides opportunities for moral action (service learning).

Principle 6: Includes a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that meets the needs of all learners (performance character).

Principle 7: Fosters students’ self-motivation.

cep s eleven principles who should be involved in character education
CEP’s Eleven Principles:Who should be involved in character education?

Principle 8: Engages the school staff as a learning and moral community.

Principle 9: Fosters shared moral leadership and long-range support.

Principle 10: Engages families and community members as partners.

cep s eleven principles how are we doing where do we go from here
CEP’s Eleven Principles:How are we doing? Where do we go from here?

Assessment should guide the process!

Principle 11: Evaluates the character education initiative.

application process

Application Process

National Schools of Character Awards

getting started gathering documents you will need
Getting started:Gathering documents you will need

Go to CEP’s website ( to familiarize yourself with the application process.

Print the NSOC or SSOC Application Guidelines, the Quality Standards and Guidelines for Districts(districts only).

Don’t miss the Helpful Information documents available to applicants.

getting started gathering stakeholders
Getting started:Gathering stakeholders

Bring together a representative group of stakeholders (such as your Character Education Committee) to discuss and plan how you will proceed.

  • When will you complete the Self-Assessment Score Sheet? Who will participate? Some complete it at the beginning and some at the end.
  • Who will take the lead in writing the Narrative? Who will offer input? Usually one person is designated as the writer, but the input of all is essential.
  • Who will gather evidence for the Portfolio? Who will put it together? You may wish to assign committee members to each principle.
  • Who will be responsible for putting the application together and submitting it on time?
getting started preparing to tell your story
Getting started:Preparing to tell your story


Principle 4: A Caring Community

  • Freshman Orientation
  • Peer Program
  • Intergenerational Activities
  • Anti-bullying Efforts
  • Service-Learning Curriculum
  • Mentoring Program
  • Class Meetings
  • Teacher Involvement

Have the group organize your story

according to the Eleven Principles.

  • Have individuals list ways your school (or district) exemplifies each of the 11 Principles.
  • Set up 11 large pieces of paper, one for each Principle.
  • Have people list on each paper the programs, activities, strategies where they fit for each Principle.
  • The writer then uses this information as the basis of the narrative.
putting it all together the application cover sheet
Putting it all together: The Application Cover Sheet

Begin the application process by completing the online Application Cover Sheet.

Enter information about your school, contact person, date your initiative began, and how you heard about the award.

This data enables CEP/state sponsor to keep track of your application and communicate with you.

When finished, print the Application Cover Sheet.

putting it all together the demographics and application information page
Putting it all together:The Demographics and Application Information Page

In a one-page document, describe:

  • Student and faculty demographics
  • AYP status
  • Who completed the self-assessment and the application
  • Information about previous NSOC/SSOC applications
putting it all together the narrative
Putting it all together:The Narrative

Now comes a 7-page narrative (up to 10 for districts) that explains how your character education “story” exemplifies the 11 Principles.

Follow these guidelines:

  • 1 inch margins, 12 point type, Times New Roman font
  • Double space and use one side of the paper
  • Number pages
the narrative page 1
The Narrative: Page 1

Page 1 is an overview of your school or district in terms of character education.

It answers the question:

What are your character education goals?

It should include:

  • How/when you agreed upon your core ethical values
  • What you are trying to accomplish
  • Why you are doing what are doing
the narrative helpful hints
The Narrative: Helpful hints
  • Write a separate paragraph (or more) for each Principle and include specific examples that address the Quality Standards scoring items.
  • Clearly number each section with the number of the Principle you are describing.
  • Only mention information once, even if it fits under more than one Principle – to make the most of your limited space.
  • Provide specific qualitative and quantitative evidence to make your case. Show that you have gathered data and acted upon it.
the portfolio putting evidence in order
The Portfolio:Putting evidence in order

Organize the evidence in sequential order according to the Eleven Principles.

Number your pages from 1 to 15. (up to 20 for districts)

  • Examples of Appropriate Evidence:
    • Mission and belief statements
    • Newspaper accounts
    • Data on behavioral changes and survey results
    • Meeting and staff development agendas
    • Student work and reflections
    • Lesson plans that integrate character
the portfolio providing documentation
The Portfolio: Providing documentation

(How have results changed since

you started character education?)

  • 5. Improved disciplinary, attendance, dropout rates
  • Improved academic performance on standardized tests
  • Agenda of faculty meetings reporting on progress
  • National, state, local awards for character education
  • School climate surveys of students, parents, staff (Provide total response numbers; comparison of “before” and “after” indicates growth.)
  • Exit surveys of graduates
  • Number of students Involved in volunteer service
  • Follow-up studies of graduates
the portfolio helpful hints
The Portfolio: Helpful hints

The evaluators need to be able to read all evidence supplied in the Portfolio!

  • Do not reduce items so much that they cannot easily be read.
  • Be mindful of how your pages will reproduce when copied.
  • Do not cover items with other items.

Keep photos to a minimum.

putting it all together portfolio table of contents
Putting it all together:Portfolio Table of Contents

Now that your portfolio is complete, create your Table of Contents.

Don’t forget page numbers.

Optional: Return to your written narrative and insert portfolio page numbers that support your evidence.

Example from a winning narrative:

“Kindness and Justice” awards for compassionate behavior (7,15), and clubs such as Cares Council, Hand-in-Hand and Diversity reinforce empathy and tolerance (12,16).

putting it all together the self assessment score sheet
Putting it all together:The Self-Assessment Score Sheet
  • Have stakeholders score your initiative individually according to the Quality Standards.
  • Send in a compilation (average) of your scores as the last page of your application.
  • An Excel score sheet is available at CEP’s website for you use – or you may use the score sheet page of the Quality Standards.
promising practices
Promising Practices

Unique and specific character education strategies and programs that address the Eleven Principles

Applications are due March 15, 2010.

CEP features winning practices in the annual NSOC publication and on its website, where educators may search for ideas that work.

NSOC/SSOC applicants receive special consideration.


What questions do you have about the NSOC application process?

Remember there are resources for applicants available on CEP’s website.

www character org

NSOC / SSOC / Promising Practices

National Forum on Character Education

Staff Development Opportunities