In the Christian school community we owe a deep debt of gratitude to Cardus, the Ontario think tank, and to those who have funded the Cardus Education Survey. The survey results for the U.S. and Canadian Christian schools have given solid and substantive evidence that Christian education is making a difference and is worth doing. Last year survey results were released for North American schools (introduced here and then discussed in a four part series – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4) and this fall the results for Canadian schools were released.
Recently, Cardus has presented the results of the Canadian data across Canada and at the Christian Schools Canada conference held in October. You can hear a keynote presentation by Ray Pennings, one of the study authors, by clicking here.
The title of the Canadian Cardus Survey, A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats: Measuring Non-Government School Effects in Service of the Canadian Public Good, makes a strong argument for the value of non-government education that “produce graduates who embody commonly desired excellences and characteristics in generally even higher proportions than do government-run public schools.” This is no small accomplishment, given that Canadian schools have ranked among the top of the world on recent international tests, such as PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment.)
Below are some highlights from the study in three different categories.
Cultural, Economic, and Social Engagement:
- Graduates of non-government schools tend to be equally or more involved in politics and culture than are government school graduates
- Involvement in cultural activities seems to be shaped by the community context of the graduates. Thus Christian school graduates have a greater involvement in choirs, while independent non-religious school graduates attend concerts and the opera more frequently.
- Because of overseas “mission” or “development” trips, Christian school graduates have had much more cross-cultural experiences than graduates of other schools.
- Graduates of Christian schools are more likely than any other group to feel thankful for their current life circumstances, to feel capable of dealing with life, and to consider themselves goal-oriented. However, they are less likely to be risk-takers and more likely to conform.
- Christian school graduates attain similar or slightly fewer years of education as government school graduates.
- Christian school graduates are more likely to have a master’s degree than an undergraduate degree. If they are on a university track, they have a higher likelihood than government school graduates of continuing on for a higher degree.
- Christian school graduates on most measures highly evaluated their experience and the preparation it offered, but did not report the same joy and pride in their schooling brand (as independent non-religious school graduates.)
- In general, even with fifteen or so years of hindsight, graduates of non-government schools evaluate their school cultures positively, claiming them to be close-knit and expressing a positive regard for teachers, students, and administrators, and reflect that they offered good preparation for later life . . . it is likely that an unusual ethic of care characterizes the school culture in many non-government schools.
Spiritual Formation and Religious Engagement
- Christian schools seem very effective in contributing to the religious and spiritual formation of their graduates. By almost all measures and indicators, they were more effective than all other school sectors in doing so.
- Christian school graduates have ample opportunities through school and church to develop skills for eventual participation and contribution in the civic core of society.
- Graduates of Christian schools are grounded, contributing, faithful, diligent, conservative, and dependable. It seems likely that such citizens contribute to the peace, stability, and flourishing of a society.
I would like to congratulate our CSI schools in Canada – I believe that they are doing a great job of meeting their missions and seeking to move their schools forward!