by Michael Josephson of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.
Historically, formal standards directing and guiding the educational mission focused almost exclusively on defining content outcomes in progressive age and grade developmental stages. In the past decade, however, the acknowledged objectives of education have been broadened as the result of a number of parallel reform movements vigorously urging educators to explicitly supplement content standards with outcome objectives concerning the development of critical and creative thinking, decision-making and problem-solving abilities; social and emotional life skills, ethical character traits, and practical knowledge and competencies reflecting the demands of the modern life and workplace.
Domains of Student Development. Thus, whether included in formal standards or not, educational institutions are expected to provide students with knowledge, skills, values and character traits in three distinct domains of development:
1) Academic – instilling educational values, beliefs and attitudes; developing learning-related character traits and cognitive skills.
2) Social/Emotional – instilling self-awareness and self-management skills, interpersonal social skills and critical positive life skills and character traits.
3) Character – instilling or strengthening core ethical values and moral character traits.
Objectives. These standards present a comprehensive, integrated statement of critical educational outcomes deemed necessary to prepare students to: 1) Succeed in school (including college or other post-secondary school education); 2) Succeed in the workplace and their careers; 3) Live happy, worthy and fulfilling personal lives, and 4) Become engaged, responsible and productive citizens.
Educational Outcomes. To accomplish this, these Standards identify four forms of educational outcomes:
1) Knowledge – what students should know and understand,
2) Skills – what students should be able to do,
3) Values – what students should value and believe, and
4) Traits – what characteristics and attributes of character students should possess.
These standards are the result of a project of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Josephson Institute designed to provide states, school districts and individual schools with a comprehensive, fully integrated guide to the achievement of ambitious but realistic educational objectives in the academic, social/emotional and character domains. The Institute is committed to continually updating, and where appropriate, revising these Model Standards in response to experience and the suggestions and advice of thoughtful educators
 These Standards, integrating critical outcomes from each of these domains, draw heavily upon the hands-on experience of thousands of educators involved in the Josephson Institute’s CHARACTER COUNTS! school and student development improvement efforts, as well as the most current research and theories regarding the whole child, school climate; connectedness, behavior modification; the growth mindset, executive function, research-based instructional strategies as well as the to teach high level learning skills; as well the research, reports, recommendations and standards presented by the National Governor’s Association’s COMMON CORE Standards Initiative, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ Framework for 21st Century Learning: Student Outcomes and Support Systems, the Illinois State Standards for Social and Emotional Learning, the Kansas State Standards for Social, Emotional, and Character Development; ASCD Whole Child Initiative and the work of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL); Character Education Partnership, the Institute for Excellence & Ethics, the Center for the 4th and 5th Rs, and the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention.
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