Developing Schools of Character

Through courageous leadership, a growing number of schools are closing achievement gaps, increasing student proficiency, building character, and creating caring, supporting, and challenging climates through SECD.


Making the Case for SECD in Schools: What the Research Supports

  • Success in school and life depends on students’ engagement and commitment to school and their perceiving the school as a respectful, safe, supportive, and caring place

  • A positive, respectful, engaging school climate predicts lower problem behavior and higher academic achievement

  • Providing students with systematic, continuous, and coordinated programming directed toward Social-Emotional and Character Development (SECD) is associated with an 11% rise in standardized test scores and reductions in school dropout, violence, bullying and classroom disruption

  • Bullying is less likely to occur in schools that are perceived as respectful environments

  • Students find Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying, and Victimization prevention and intervention messages most valuable and believable when the staff members are seen as genuinely caring and when students perceive themselves as engaged in school

  • Evidence-based after-school programs designed to systematically build social-emotional competencies are successful in improving feelings of self-confidence, attitudes toward school, positive social behaviors, grades, and achievement test scores, particularly linked to a universal/Tier 1 coordinated program.

  • Evidence-based after-school SECD programs are also successful in reducing aggression, noncompliance, conduct problems, and drug use, but all of these effects are obtained ONLY if programs are implemented with fidelity

  • People with emotional intelligence skills are more likely to advance in the workplace and be successful managers and leaders

  • Organizations that systematically promote employees' emotional intelligence do better on the "bottom line" than they did previously or in experimental comparisons


SECD In Action

A principal, teacher and student talk about the importance of social-emotional learning and character development at The Urban Assembly, a nonprofit that serves a family of New York City public secondary schools.


Promoting social-emotional and character development of children is, paradoxically, the best opportunity for innovation in education. It is accessible, feasible, sensible, cost-effective, within our grasp, and supported by evidence.
— Maurice Elias