By Karen Hornfeck, OLG Director of Marketing and Admissions
Students in religious schools show a significant academic advantage over students reenrolled in traditional public schools or charter schools, according to a recent review of 90 different studies on the effects of schools conducted by William Jeynes, a professor at California State University, Long Beach and a senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton , New Jersey.
Jeynes, who published his recent study in the Peabody Journal of Education, compared average standardized test scores and found that traditional public school and charter school students scored essentially the same, but students in faith-based schools excelled. Jeynes says “Students who attend religious schools score at an academic level about 12 months ahead of their counterparts.”
Jeynes also looked at achievement gaps, as measured by ethnicity, race and socio-economic status and found that it is narrower in faith-based schools than in traditional public schools.
What are faith-based schools doing right?
Jeynes says faith-based schools “have higher expectations of students and encourage them to take hard courses.” Jeynes also noted differences in student behavior at faith-based schools. “Students have fewer behavioral problems than their counterparts, even when adjusting for socioeconomic status, race, and gender,” he says. Higher expectations and a classroom environment free of distractions allow students to learn more when in class.
Kurt Telford, principal at Our Lady of Grace School (OLG) in Greensboro, sees the truth in Jeynes findings. “When students walk through our doors, we expect them to succeed,” Telford says. “We offer an accelerated academic program that teaches to the highest level of our student population and we work hard at ramping up those at the bottom versus teaching down.”
OLG’s methods work. Last year, 44% of OLG seventh graders scored at the 95th percentile or higher on standardized testing and qualified for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. Two of the three National Merit Scholars at Bishop McGuinness High School last year were graduates of OLG. “When we offer accelerated math and reading programs, we always see our students meet that challenge head on,” says Telford. OLG offers at least two levels of math instruction – grade-level and advanced – starting in kindergarten. Eighth graders have the rare option of enrolling in a high school level Geometry class as well.
Telford, who has also been a principal in the public school sector, says incorporating faith into the classroom also adds another dynamic touched on in the study . “Students at Our Lady of Grace School are taught to love and respect each other from day one,” he says. “We talk a lot about service and incorporate serving others into our lessons so our students understand that it’s not enough to be the smartest, you also have to be compassionate to be a good leader.”
To learn more about Our Lady of Grace Catholic School, go towww.olgsch.org. OLG is located in the heart of historic Sunset Hills at 2205 W. Market St. in Greensboro. Monthly open houses are conducted, with the next one being held on Tuesday, October 15th at 9:30 a.m. in the school library.
Sponsored by Our Lady of Grace School