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Erlanger-Elsmere Test Scores Improve, New Program Credited

The Erlanger/Elsmere board of education recognized partners recently after seeing an improvement in year-end test scores. 

The board credits its partnership with Beech Acres Parenting Center and Children, Inc. for their new learning program, the Character Effect.

Data showed that fifth-grade students at Miles Elementary in Erlanger "performed measurably better" on end-of-year testing. 

“With standardized testing, we’ve been trained to always look at the glass being half-empty, or deficit-based,” said Josh Jackson, principal of Miles. “The Character Effect has instead taught us to intentionally look at and build on children’s strengths, and this has made a major difference with our students.”

The Character Effect is, according to a news release, a social and emotional learning program that works by nurturing children’s individual strengths. It brings together the research of positive psychology and the science of mindfulness in a meaningful, flexible curriculum. Its framework uses research-informed tools to help students, teachers and parents to collectively develop a common language and become a powerful force rallying the adults in a student’s life, the release said.

The Character Effect is designed to improve student’s self-control, increase their classroom participation, cultivate an atmosphere of respect for others and boost their overall self-acceptance.

In addition to higher year-end test scores, Miles students also saw discipline improve as they incorporated their personal strengths into their behaviors in the classroom, the school district said. Even first-grade students began applying the concepts of mindfulness and strengths-building in sophisticated ways in their curriculum, the release said.

After successful pilot programs in first and fifth-grade classes in the 2017-2018 school year, Miles Elementary expanded use of The Character Effect to all of the school’s 273 students in grades K-5 for 2018-2019.

“The Character Effect has helped us to finally connect social and emotional learning to academic learning,” Jackson said. “Now we’re bridging the gap and meeting the whole child’s needs, which makes them much more likely to succeed.”

Jackson explained that the program is improving students’ self-control, increasing classroom participation, cultivating an atmosphere of respect for others and boosting children’s overall self-acceptance.

“We are delighted to see the positive results at Miles Elementary in so many areas,” said Jim Mason, president and CEO of Beech Acres Parenting Center. “The school community has demonstrated what’s possible when adults intentionally identify and encourage the expression of children’s unique, innate strengths.”

Miles Elementary is one of several schools in Greater Cincinnati that has recently begun implementing The Character Effect in collaboration with Beech Acres Parenting Center and Children, Inc.

-Staff report

Photo: (Left to Right) Corey Hatfield of Beech Acres, Sarah Zawaly of Children, Inc., Jaimi Cabrera of Beech Acres and Josh Jackson of Miles school. (provided)