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 What are the “11 Principles of Effective Character Education”?

The “11 Principles of Effective Character Education” is a research-based framework developed by for improving school climate and culture through a school-wide emphasis on character education. The framework serves as a tool for planning and assessing highly effective character education initiatives and is complementary to other school climate improvement efforts (e.g., PBIS, Responsive Classroom, restorative practices and social-emotional learning).

Understanding and using these principles helps schools learn what effective character education is, how to build a school environment that fosters character development in students, who must be involved in designing the character education initiative and how to assess areas of strength and growth.

The 11 Principles serve as an assessment tool and rubric for the Schools of Character application. Download the 11 Principles Score Sheet to calculate scores automatically from your stakeholder self-assessment. 
Looking for an idea to implement a specific principle? Browse our database by principle of award-winning Minnesota Promising Practices for inspiration!
11 Principles:
Principle 1: Core values are defined, implemented and embedded into school culture. 
Principle 2: The school defines “character” to include thinking, feeling, and doing.
Principle 3: The school uses a comprehensive, intentional and proactive approach to develop character. 
Principle 4: The school creates a caring community.
Principle 5: The school provides students with opportunities for moral action.
Principle 6: The school offers a meaningful and challenging academic curriculum that respects all learners, develops
                     their character and helps them succeed.
Principle 7: The school fosters students’ self-motivation.
Principle 8: All staff share the responsibility for developing, implementing and modeling ethical character. 
Principle 9: The school’s character initiative fosters shared leadership and long-range support of the character
                     education initiative.
Principle 10: The school engages families and community members as partners in the character initiative.
Principle 11: The school assesses its implementation of character education, its culture and climate, and the character growth of students on a regular basis
Resources from

Download the free 11 Principles Introductory Guide eBook 

11 principles book coverOrder the 11 Principle of Character Guidebook which explains each of the 11 Principles and includes a scoring guide to measure implementation.

11 Principles Resources &Training
Resources and training are available to help develop an in-depth understanding of the 11 Principles and how to effectively implement them in your school or district. offers multiple support and training opportunities for K-12 schools and districts. If your school is interested in hosting a training, please contact Barb Bergseth at or 507-389-5112

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