“Our study is assessing the achievement level in Adventist schools compared to national norms, and the student, parent, teacher, or school factors associated with academic performance of elementary and secondary students in Adventist schools across the North American Division.” - Robert J. Cruise, Ph.D., Research Team

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:

  • How well are students doing academically?
  • Are there unique, identifiable qualities that are related to Seventh-day Adventist academics and, if so, what are they?
  • How do Seventh-day Adventist students compare in academic performance to their counterparts in public and private schools?
  • What needs to be improved in order to provide the best possible education for our young

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.

“Our purpose is not to defend the educational system as it is but to find out how well we are doing and what we can do to improve the educational experience of our children.” -Elissa Kido, Ed.D., Project Directo

Benefits of the Study

  • Valid, reliable data to explore what factors could be related to the strengths and weaknesses of Adventist education
  • Reshaping of curricula and teaching strategies based on findings to further enhance student learning
  • New marketing and recruiting strategies promoting Adventist education

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.

“We have nothing to hide and everything to learn.” - Kelly Bock, Ed.D., VP for Education, Washington Conference and Former Director of Education, Pacific Union Conference