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Study Shows Character Education Improves Academic and Social Skills


San Diego, Feb. 10, 2005 -- At a time when corporate misdeeds are commonplace, sports stars are in court as often as they’re on the court, and prom dresses are so revealing that stores require parental permission before selling them to minors, character counts. This old adage has once again been proven true: in a study just completed by WestEd, a leading nonprofit research, development and service agency based in San Francisco, California, fourth graders who received character education outscored their peers in reading, mathematics, attendance and citizenship.

The study, entitled “Short-term Effects of a Literature-Based Character Education Program Among Fourth Grade Students,” was conducted by WestEd in eight schools in rural Florida and Louisiana. The researchers found that students using the Lessons in Character materials from Young People’s Press ( improved academic performance in reading and math, reduced disciplinary referrals and increased behavioral and citizenship skills compared to students in the control group.

The results were statistically significant. Student surveys conducted before and after the study revealed that students who used the Lessons in Character materials picked on other students less, showed better sportsmanship and were better able to talk to teachers about problems. Teachers surveyed felt the students displayed more self-respect and improved in their ability to describe both people with character and people who were good citizens. What’s more, teachers in the study felt the Lessons in Character curriculum helped their students prepare for the holy grail of the No Child Left Behind Act: State standardized tests.

The results closely matched the study’s goals and showed that teachers can easily integrate a literature-based character education curriculum into existing lesson plans. In fact, there was overwhelmingly positive response by the teachers to the Lessons in Character materials. “Unanticipated findings were strong teacher support for the program and suggestions for using the materials earlier in the year to create a more positive classroom climate,” concluded WestEd researchers, Dietsch and Bayha.

But just what is literature-based character education? At Young People’s Press, it is a comprehensive program of respected, multicultural children’s literature organized into lap books according to the character traits they describe: Cooperation, courage, fairness, hard work, kindness, patience, peacefulness, respect, sharing and truthfulness. Supporting audiocassettes, workbooks, posters and teachers’ guides complete the language-arts programs designed for students from kindergarten through grade 9.

It all adds up to a fun, easy way for students to learn about - and build - character. And in today’s world, strong character may just be the best indicator for lifelong success.

For more information about Young People’s Press and its character education programs, or to view the WestEd study in its entirety, contact Patty Pflum at 800-231-9774, or visit the Young People’s Press Web site at


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