Adventist Students Score High
in Survey’s Second Year
Standardized tests demonstrate value of church-run schools
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor
eventh-day Adventist church-run schools -- no matter how small and no matter how brief a student’s tenure – produce children who test above their grade level and their potential on standardized tests, the second year of a three-year study finds.
"We talk about 'No Child Left Behind,'" a U.S. federal law designed to enhance public education, said Elissa Kido, a professor of Curriculum and Instruction at La Sierra University in Riverside, California, who is the study's project director. "Adventist education is not leaving ANY child behind!"
The survey results, reported to the November, 2008, year-end meeting of the North American Division, were in line with those of the first year. The study is measuring academic achievement using the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) and the Iowa Test of Educational Development (ITED) and the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT).
The study, CognitiveGenesis, is funded by private donations and seeks to learn the achievement level in Adventist schools compared to national norms, as well as the student, parental, teacher or school factors are associated with achievement. When completed it will cover the learning accomplishments of every student in the North American Division in grades 3 through 9 and 11. Estimates are that 30,000 students are enrolled in Adventist schools nationwide each year.
IMPRESSIVE RESULTS: Dr. Elissa Kido of La Sierra University, CognitiveGenesis project director, presents results from the second year of a three-year study to North American Division Seventh-day Adventist leaders at a meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland. [Matt Herzel/AR]
"There's a pervasive Adventist advantage in educational performance," said Jerome Thayer, a retired statistician and professor from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. "The [longer] a child is in Adventist schools, the higher their achivement level."
While it has been widely acknowledged in church circles that Adventist education helps produce Adventist youngsters who stay connected to the movement, "parents have lost confidence in the academic part," Kido said. The study's data refutes that, Thayer added: "this affirms the teachers and all the blood and sweat" invested in Adventist education, he said.
According to Kido, one "amazing" result from the study is the overall level of achievement: "at all ability levels, the students are scoring above prediction. Students who need extra challenge, they’re getting it," she told NAD delegates.
Kido added, "Do we want our kids in Adventist schools and do we want them there year after year? Yes, if we want these kinds of academic achievement. You want to send them from the very beginning. We talk about a hidden curriculum – everything that is not in the books, but that happens at the school."
Division leaders expressed satisfaction at the report. "The results of this survey point out that Adventist education, as a whole, is quality education, that children are learning, not only above the national average, but also above their personal predicted ability," said Larry Blackmer, NAD education vice president. "And because it’s such a broad survey, it points to a quality system, not just quality curriculum or teachers or schools, but all of those together making up a quality system."
Don Schneider, division president, added, "I don’t know what more we can hope for in that. I'm proud of you, [and] proud of Adventist schools."
Along with Thayer and Kido, another principal is Robert Cruise, the study's research director and a former professor of statistics and research at several Adventist universities. Additional information on the study, including second year results, is available online at http://www.cognitivegenesis.org/.
-- with additional reporting from Adventist News Network.