The Character Development Program of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

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The Character Development Program of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), with the support of The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, recently received a four-year, 1.83 million dollar grant from the United States Department of Education to implement a character development program for students. This program is designed to integrate character development into classroom instruction and to ensure parental and community involvement in character development initiatives. The program has existed for one year. The purpose of this paper is to overview the goals and activities of the program.

The program goals are to: (1) enhance character development among CMS students; (2) identify the extent to which students in the treatment group exhibit fewer instances of negative behavior as a result of exposure to character development activities; (3) enhance the understanding and involvement of parents and families in school-based character education efforts; and (4) increase the involvement of the faith and social communities in school-based character education efforts in CMS. The goals of the program are being measured through multiple data collection techniques ¡V surveys, interviews, focus groups, observations, and review of existing data. Evaluation of the program is both formative and summative.

Using a quasi-experimental design with carefully matched comparison conditions, twenty-five elementary, middle, and high schools with more than 24,000 students (i.e., the treatment group) are being exposed to an array of character development initiatives. These schools have been matched with demographically similar schools (i.e., the control group) that are not receiving these initiatives. Baseline data for goals and objectives were obtained during the 2002-2003 school year for the purpose of comparison with data obtained during subsequent years of the program.

We expect that this program will decrease office referrals and suspensions, increase attendance, and increase the number of students participating in service learning at a statistically significant level. In addition, we expect that Parent-Teacher Association attendance and parental awareness of good character will increase. Also, we anticipate an increase in involvement in schools of the faith and business communities, a fusing of character and religious teachings within the faith community, and an increase in the in-kind and financial support of the schools from the business and social community.

During the next three years, CMS central office will support the treatment schools' efforts to enhance character development by:

. Developing a guide for parents that describes how families can teach and model

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