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Pennsylvania Department of Education | Wallingford-Swarthmore School District | School District of Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Department of Education Abstract

Contact: Dorothy Hershey
Pennsylvania Department of Education
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, PA 17126–0333
(717) 783–7089

Pennsylvania Alliance for Character Education

Application Number: R215V990016
Project Period: 10/01/99–9/30/04
FY 1999 Award: $208,427
FY 2000 Award: $251,327
FY 2001 Award: $219,758
FY 2002 Award: $176,585
FY 2003 Award: $143,903

The Pennsylvania Department of Education is the chief engineer for a new initiative, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Character Education (PACE). PACE is a public/private partnership committed to providing quality character education opportunities, which assist Pennsylvania children to become productive, responsible citizens. PACE will develop, research, evaluate, and disseminate character education programming that impacts on crucial issues facing our youth, schools, and communities today. As part of this process, school districts in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Beaver County will receive funds to design and implement character education curricula tailored to meet local student, parent, school, and community needs.

Key elements of the PACE initiative include:

  • Extensive character education teacher training and technical assistance through the PACE infrastructure;

  • Service learning infusion as a dynamic reinforcement of character education and as a critical means of uniting school and community

  • Strong youth leadership roles in all aspects of character education programming and planning; and

  • Comprehensive research and evaluation to determine PACE project impacts on students, schools, and communities.

Through the implementation of diverse character education curricula, tailored to meet individual school needs, a total of 12,200 students and 383 teachers will be impacted by the PACE project.


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Wallingford-Swarthmore School District

Contact: Sharon E. Parker
220 S. Providence Road
Wallingford, PA 19086
(610) 892-3470

Positive Psychology and the Cultivation of Character Among Youth

Grant Number: R215S020045
Project Period: 10/1/02–9/30/06
FY 2002 Award: $729,259
FY 2003 Award: $673,870
FY 2004 Award: $701,666
FY 2005 Award: $736,064

The Wallingford-Swarthmore School District plans to develop and evaluate a curriculum designed to nurture positive character development, positive emotion, and citizenship in high school students. The intervention, based on scientific studies of positive character traits, has been piloted for four years at the University of Pennsylvania. It is designed to build altruism, gratitude, optimism, perspective, and civic engagement among other virtues. In this study, positive psychology components will be integrated into the 9th grade Language Arts curriculum and evaluated with approximately 1,080 students in the Wallingford-Swarthmore (Pennsylvania) School District.

Over the four years of the project, 9th graders will be randomly assigned to Language Arts classes that either include or do not include the positive psychology components of the curriculum. The project will evaluate character traits prior to the intervention, post intervention, and in follow-up for the duration of the four-year study. There will also be an evaluation of the program's impact on a broad range of other outcomes including students' achievement and education attainment, motivation, health and safety, emotional development, peer relationships, and civic engagement achievement. Outcomes will be evaluated from multiple perspectives (student, parent, and teacher).

By the end of the project, the plan is to have refined and rigorously evaluated the positive psychology curriculum. Our goal is to create a well-documented, replicable curriculum that can be exported for adolescents of diverse academic abilities. If successful, the materials will by the conclusion of the project be ready for wide-scale dissemination among language arts teachers and other staff in both public and private high schools.


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School District of Philadelphia

Contact: Robert Coccagna
2120 Winter Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 299-7840

Partnerships in Character Education Program

Grant Number: R215S020106
Project Period: 10/1/02–9/30/06
FY 2002 Award: $498,698
FY 2003 Award: $499,031
FY 2004 Award: $499,093
FY 2005 Award: $498,955

The School District of Philadelphia was awarded $1,995,777.00 over four years from the Department of Education's Partnerships in Character Education Program (CFDA 84.215S). Significantly, the program will serve an estimated 30 students in each of 64 schools during each program year, enabling over 15,360 students to benefit from strengthened character education over the course of the grant.

In 1998-1999, the School District of Philadelphia showed its commitment to all 210,000 of its students by inaugurating its Service-Learning Initiative, which puts character development into action and reinforces its principles. Today, Philadelphia's program has grown to become the largest in the country. With Department of Education funding, they intend to:

1) Establish a cadre of Service-Learning Teacher Liaisons throughout the District, who will help hundreds of other teachers become trained in Service-Learning methodology, better understand and integrate its character education elements, implement actual projects with students, and connect with a variety of community partners and experts, among other activities.

2) Provide professional development activities to Teacher-Liaisons and at least 128 other teachers in each of the District's 64 schools.

3) Identify and provide funding for a teacher at each school to implement a Service-Learning project (with intentional character education elements and outcomes) with a classroom of students, supported by teacher training funding and a small project implementation mini-grant.

4) Expand and deepen a particular Service-Learning/Character Education program called Champions of Caring that has shown great promise through funding from a previous Department of Education Character Education grant to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

5) Strengthen program evaluation activities, with a particular emphasis on character education elements.

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Last Modified: 11/08/2011