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Pa. school district participates in ethics study

November 30, 1999|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. ? When it comes to honesty, trust, respect and responsibility, a recent study shows that Greencastle-Antrim School District students "are like all kids across the nation," according to one administrator.

The 2006 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth by the Josephson Institute of Ethics compared the answers of 636 Greencastle-Antrim High School students with students nationwide.

Bob Crider, principal of Greencastle-Antrim Middle School, presented the results at the first school board meeting in 2007, saying that in general, students at Greencastle-Antrim "mirror the national population in ethics."

Students participating in the study answered 62 questions ranging from how safe they feel at school to whether it is worthwhile to cheat on a test. The students answered the questions by rating how much they agreed with a statement or saying how often they did the action in question.

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The final question on the survey asked students how many of the questions they answered with total honesty. About 75 percent of Greencastle students said they answered every question honestly, while out of about 35,000 students who took the survey nationwide, only 73 percent said they answered every question honestly.

Greencastle was on par with the nation ethically, but not on every question of the survey.

When asked how safe students feel at school, only 10.4 percent of Greencastle students strongly agreed to being very safe at school. Nationwide, 20.7 percent of students strongly agreed.

On questions regarding the influence of religion, about 8 percent more Greencastle students than the national average answered that their religion was essential to their character.

This was the first time Greencastle-Antrim students participated in the study, and Crider said the data will prove invaluable.

"The study puts numbers and data to the ethical concepts we teach," Crider said. "It tells me our character education program is working."

Beginning in primary school, Greencastle-Antrim School District teaches Character Counts!, a program that stresses to students the importance of six pillars of character ? trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

"The students hear these pillars in the language that surrounds them on the bus, in the hallway and at lunch," Crider said.

Crider said Character Counts! started at Greencastle in 1999, and is a national project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

The next Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth will be released in 2008, and Crider said he intends for Greencastle to participate.

"The results will be more valuable once we have multiple studies to compare," he said.

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