Character education in schools
My story today about a new character education initiative at Baltimore County's Kenwood High School is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this field.
I came across a lot of interesting information about a variety of models used throughout the state, and thought I'd share some of those additional details here.
Several people I spoke with emphasized the importance of data in using these programs. Tom Zirpoli, a McDaniel College education professor, mentioned how tricky it can be to link behavioral changes directly back to school or classroom discussions about honesty or other principles. Nancy Hanlin, one of the Kenwood teachers who also happens to be the attendance and tardiness monitor, mentioned trying to figure out a way to do just that.
The appeal of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, according to one of the educators I spoke with, is that it has a good measurement tool.
In Anne Arundel County, school officials have seen reductions in suspensions, referrals and extended suspensions at all levels in PBIS schools, said Virginia L. Dolan, the PBIS facilitator there.
"You really want to make sure that you have hardcore evidence that it really works and that you're doing some things with fidelity," Dolan told me, when we discussed the PBIS framework, which seeks to create safe, supportive schools using data as a guide. Nearly 70 schools are using PBIS there. But Dolan - along with school officials in other counties - also say the same framework or model may look different from building to building, as schools make them work for their particular communities.
Finally, for those interested in reading more: Paula McCoach, a character education specialist at MSDE, pointed me to a character education book the state put out last fall on this subject.