Seventh-day Adventist educators have long maintained that their students’ achievement test scores (Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores), pass rates, and college matriculation percentages consistently outpace most public school and even other private school systems. The Annual Council of American Private Education Report indicates performance of private education students on nationwide standardized tests routinely outpaces those of public school students. Are these impressive facts or just well-intentioned propaganda?
The CognitiveGenesis study was born out of the desire to create an empirical data bank that could answer the following questions:
Researchers at La Sierra University with the cooperation of the North American Division Office of Education (NADOE) and all nine unions, undertook the first division-wide (United States, Canada, and Bermuda) study to assess Adventist academics in elementary and secondary schools. The four-year study documented the academic achievement of approximately 30,000 students in the NAD and examined the various factors that are related to achievement.
Beginning in Fall 2006, CognitiveGenesis surveys were administered to students in Grades 3-9 and 11, their teachers, administrators, and parents. They were used to collect information about the factors that are related to academic achievement, including uniquely Adventist ones. In addition to the surveys, academic information for each student was collected with the help of standardized test. The CogAt assessed each student’s ability (i.e. their predicted achievement) and achievement. Read more about the study design and timeline here. The surveys and tests provided the basis for establishing an accurate documented picture of elementary and secondary Adventist academic achievement.
Valuegenesis I and II examined the faith maturity and loyalty of Adventist elementary and secondary students to Adventism and Christian faith. In contrast, CognitiveGenesis will focus on factors that are related to the academic quality of Adventist K-12 education. Together, these two major studies will provide valuable insights into two of the three components of the Adventist education triad – “the spiritual, mental, and physical.”
When youth and parents see that Adventist education delivers both spiritually and academically, there may be a growing group of young people who will choose to be part of Adventist education and as a result participate in the life of the church.