CHARACTER COUNTS! is based on Model Standards of Academic, Social and Emotional (SEL), Character Development, and School Climate. The standards provide a comprehensive integration of four core domains comprising the mission of modern educational institutions and objectives of education and reform movements. The Model Standards have also been linked to CASEL’s core five competencies.
The Standards supplement content standards with objectives concerning the development of:
- critical and creative thinking
- decision-making, and problem-solving abilities
- social and emotional life skills
- ethical character traits
- practical knowledge and competencies reflecting the demands of modern life and the workplace.
Today, it is generally accepted that the fundamental purpose of education is to prepare students to succeed in college and career and become responsible and productive citizens. Whether included informal standards or not, educational institutions can help students develop values, skills, and character traits in four overlapping domains.
The Four Domains
- Intellectual growth and performance (The Academic Domain)
- Social/emotional intelligence and positive life skills (The Social/Emotional Domain)
- Ethical and moral character traits (The Character Domain)
- Quality and character of the learning environment. (The School Climate Domain)
These Model Standards, integrating critical outcomes from each of these domains, draw heavily upon the most current research and theories concerning:
- Social and emotional (SEL) and character development/character education
- Creation of a positive school climate
- Behavior change theory
- Growth versus fixed mindset and research-based instructional strategies to teach high-level learning skills.
Among the more influential contributions seeking to broaden the educational mission and provide new strategies for developing a competent next generation with a strong moral conscience are the research, reports, recommendations, and standards presented by:
- National Governor’s Association’s COMMON CORE Standards Initiative
- Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework for 21st Century Learning: Student Outcomes and Support System
- Illinois State Standards for Social and Emotional Learning
- Kansas State Standards for Social, Emotional and Character Development
- ASCD Whole Child Initiative and the work of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)
- Excellence with Integrity Institute
- Center for the 4th and 5th Rs
- National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention.
These standards can provide states, school districts, and individual schools with a comprehensive, fully integrated guide to the achievement of ambitious but realistic learning objectives in the academic, social/emotional, character, and school climate domains. We commit to continually updating, and where appropriate, revising these Model Standards in response to experience and the suggestions and advice of thoughtful educators.