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Social-Emotional grades studied

7, 9, 10, 11

CharacterStrong – Secondary


Program Description

The CharacterStrong curriculum is a universal program designed for students in grades 6 through 12. The curriculum includes vertically-aligned content across each grade that integrates traditional SEL skills-focused instruction (e.g., emotion regulation and interpersonal skills) with character education. CharacterStrong is designed to build social and emotional competence, develop character, and cultivate strong educator-student relationships. CharacterStrong Middle School curriculum consists of 35 lessons per grade level for 6th through 8th grades. CharacterStrong High School curriculum consists of 25 lessons per grade level for 9th through 12th grades. Each lesson is designed to be delivered with minimal preparation needed and no supplies to minimize implementation barriers, as well as with a strong focus on student voice and choice to maximize student responsiveness. Lessons are delivered in approximately 30 minutes with the flexibility to adapt to a variety of timing needs. CharacterStrong was constructed around five primary principles: Emotion Understanding & Regulation, Empathy & Compassion, Values & Purpose, Goals & Habits, and Leadership & Teamwork. Each of these principles focuses on building specific SEL and character competencies that support three proximal outcomes of well-being, belonging, and engagement.

Program Outcomes

CharacterStrong was evaluated in a cluster-randomized study involving 14 secondary schools in a large and diverse urban district in the Pacific Northwest during the 2019-2020 school year. It was a unique implementation in that professional development and lesson implementation began prior to the pandemic but then transitioned into a virtual environment with the closures of schools. The P-SELS was used to measure grit, learning strategies, self-efficacy, self-management, social awareness, and growth mindset. Students in CharacterStrong schools scored significantly higher on measures categorized under the Academic Engagement umbrella (effect sizes of learning strategies = +0.19, self-management = +0.11, and grit = +.10), qualifying the program for an ESSA Promising rating.

Staffing Requirements

No additional staffing required.

Professional Development/Training

CharacterStrong provides multiple training opportunities to support fidelity of curriculum delivery and low-burden, high-impact practices that supports whole child and staff success. Whole-staff training is offered virtually or in-person for initial implementation and for sustaining implementation of the CharacterStrong curriculum. The training lasts 3 hours and focuses on supporting educator motivation, skills, and self-efficacy to deliver the curriculum with fidelity. Also embedded in the curriculum platform are online orientation modules to introduce the purpose and functionality of the curriculum in 30 minutes or less. CharacterStrong also hosts an On Demand PD platform that includes courses on student behavior, mental health literacy, adult SEL, and a comprehensive whole-staff training on research-backed practices that support well-being, belonging, and engagement. Included in purchase of the curriculum, leaders have access to a self-paced Implementation Roadmap that guides them through research-backed implementation strategies including those focused on teaming, data-based decision-making, and utilization of cues and prompts for adult behavior change.


CharacterStrong curriculum is digitally delivered and teachers will need a computer and access to the web.