To the Editor:
Your summary of the recent federal study of social- and character-development programs (“Study Finds Few Benefits in Character Education,” Report Roundup, Oct. 27, 2010) doesn’t tell the whole story. Each of the seven programs included in the multisite component of the federal study had to undertake a rigorous local study as well. A number of these local studies are finding quite positive results, including the three-year random-assignment study by independent researchers of my organization’s 4Rs Program (Reading, Writing, Respect & Resolution).
Findings so far in a nutshell: Children in 4Rs schools developed more positively socially and emotionally than children in the control schools; and children considered most at risk had better attendance, better grades, and higher standardized-test scores in reading than their counterparts in the control schools (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, November 2010). Overall classroom quality was significantly higher in the 4Rs schools (Journal of Educational Psychology, Spring 2010).
The findings above—from year one alone—are just the beginning. In January 2011, Child Development will describe the impact of years one and two. Another article in the same issue of the journal will report the findings of a meta-analysis of 213 studies of similar programs to foster social and emotional learning. Stay tuned!
Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the November 17, 2010 edition of Education Week as Report Does Not Give Full Picture of Character Education