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Study confirms Christian education value, opens pathways for future

Written on June 3rd, 2011

A new study provides confirmation that Christian schools provide a public value and identifies areas of growth for the schools, says Gary VanArragon.

VanArragon, OACS director of learning, attended the Cardus Education Survey’s pre-release event in Washington, D.C, last week, and says Christian schools will be looking carefully at the findings.

With the full data to be released in mid-August, Cardus has published an executive summary of the study’s findings from its two years of research. The study is the largest representative sample of Christian school graduates, using data from five separate studies.

Among the findings are that Christian schools promote community building and civic responsibility; are strong contributors to family life; provide strong life direction for students; and foster gratitude, hope and optimism for the future.

The study, which includes a qualitative component conducted by the University of Notre Dame, will add to the credibility of Christian schools in making statements regarding their value, notes VanArragon.

The study’s findings will help schools identify where programs are having a significant impact on students and where they aren’t making the impact hoped for, he says.

“I think there is going to be some program adjustments that are made both in curriculum and also in activities that are not immediately classroom focused,” he tells the OACS News.

The idea of re-evaluating institutional programs is noted in the study’s executive summary, because some of the qualitative research indicated the degree of integration between community involvement and the curriculum was not as strong as might be hoped.

VanArragon says he thinks schools will be pointed towards integrating community activities into the curriculum and creating stronger program links to their communities.

“I suspect that Christian schools are going to look at their extracurricular, co-curricular programs and realize that students do learn a great deal through things like service projects (and) team activities,” says VanArragon.

For example, a class on world-issues geography studying poverty might explore in its community what poverty looks like, how it is being addressed, and how students can work alongside the people addressing the issue and make a difference.

VanArragon says the OACS is looking forward to the study’s Canadian data, which is currently being worked on, noting “it will become a very important piece of our conversation.”

To learn more about the study, visit www.carduseducationsurvey.com.