The Link Between Character Development and Achievement Levels

[The following is an excerpt from TrustED®: The Bridge to School Improvement]

People trust those who do the right thing. However, the problem of failing to “do the right thing” goes back to the Garden of Eden. Still, we are often alarmed by surveys about the societal state of values and behaviors like the one released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics a little while ago. A survey of over 40,000 high school students revealed that 92% of those students surveyed believe their parents want them to do the right thing, and 89% say they believe that being a good person is more important than being rich. Yet, these beliefs conflict with their actions and behavioral choices. For example:

  • 1 in 3 boys and 1 in 4 girls admitted to stealing from a store within the past year.
  • 21% percent admitted they stole something from a parent or other relative.
  • 18% admitted stealing from a friend or lying.
  • More than 2 in 5 said they sometimes lie to save money (48% of males / 35% percent of females).
  • More than 8 in 10 confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.
  • 59% admitted to cheating on a test during the last year (with 34% percent doing so more than twice).
  • 1 in 3 admitted they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.

Again, the reality of unhealthy and disappointing behavioral choices (especially among teenagers) is nothing new. We all know far too well (and often from personal experience and disappointments) that our actions do not always follow our beliefs. But we must keep in mind that students, parents, faculty, and staff only trust administrators who do the right thing – even when it is not the easiest thing to do or may result in personal loss or embarrassment for the administrator. That commitment to maintaining and modeling character and developing trusted character within students also impacts students’ academic achievement levels.

Research conducted on the relationship between trust and school leadership has shown that when character development is highly valued and integrated into a school’s program and culture, student achievement increases with student performance on standardized assessments.

Has your school or university suffered from a lack of character, resulting in an overall diminished level of trust… [continue reading]



  1. As a volunteer school site evaluator for the National Schools of Character program of, I am always perplexed why the stories of success in this program (schools that focus on character see increases in academic and social outcomes) does not translate into rapid dissemination to other schools. Why is this message so tough to communicate?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, but to that point, once something has been assessed successfully, why is the dissemination process so slow (regarding by-in to character development) in sister schools? We can demonstrate the success. We can draw correlates to why it is working and then we are met with a collective yawn.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Completely agree. Took over a school two years ago. it was violent and completely disorganised from the top down. Two years later, we have moved from unsatisfactory to satisfactory. aiming for good in the next inspection. Students claiming they want to be the best in the area. Assemblies showing what that will look like. Retainment of staff improving and social media positive. What more could we ask for??? All due to character building and focusing on empathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent article and on one level no surprise as safe and secure schools focusing on empathy and compassion which lead to trust help the school community as a whole to do well. When kids staff parents feel cared for they are more likely to contribute in a positive way and look out for each other. I agree that with the breakdown of so many families and communities that schools are often taking the lead in pro social skills training. In my experience most of us want to do the right thing and feel good when we reach out and help others. Keen to hear what program you use in your school to promote character development.
    Carolyn Aston Wellbeing Co- ordinator Worawa Aboriginal School and former Peaceful Schools Program Director

    Liked by 1 person

  4. sir nice text it is. I have been suffering for long time and have got a lot of experience in this regard. than u so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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