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Life metrics

New Cardus report compares Christian school grads in three countries.

“Christian schools create better citizens,” David Hunt says, “and you can verify that empirically.” Hunt is Cardus Education program director and co-author of a recent report focused on education titled Many Educational Systems, A Common Good.

It’s the first Cardus report to compare Cardus Education survey results from three countries – Canada, America and Australia – providing a “country-level snapshot of graduates.” The topics covered are preparation for adulthood, civic engagement, family formation and religiosity. David Hunt, Albert Cheng and Rian Djita authored the report. For this article, CC spoke with David Hunt.

The Cardus Education Survey has collected data about education for over a decade. They initially started the survey in the U.S. in 2011, and then added Canada in 2012. In 2020, Albert Cheng replicated the survey in Australia.

Cheng and Hunt asked themselves, “Are there differences between these three countries?” With over 18,000 respondents, they felt that they had enough data to determine if there were.

Humility & generosity

Hunt says the results demonstrate that Christian schools create better citizens.

“Let’s take something like disagreeing well with people,” he says. “We live in a polarized age. Do people know how to disagree respectfully? Can you and I learn from people who are different than us and have humility? Christians schools excel in [teaching] that.”

When it comes to generosity, statistics show that Christian school grads are more generous in giving their time and money.

Hunt also spoke about family formation, saying that stats around marriage, children and well-being among Christian school grads outperform public schools and other schools mentioned in the report.

The report also shows how Christian school graduates have a stronger faith formation than graduates from other schools. “Whether you’re a parent or a pastor,” Hunt says, “if you want your kids to serve God and make the Christian faith their own, there’s going to be a much greater likelihood if they go through Christian school.”

Our education systems have an impact, and when a Christian school’s goal is faith formation, they are making a faith-based impact on their students. As Hunt says, “All education is formation. The question is how and by whom do you want your kids formed? Because they’re being formed.”

Another interesting result was the quality of education during COVID and the variety of response to the pandemic. “In Ontario in particular,” Hunt points out, “not a lot of school happened for extended periods of time. In some regions, up to 33 weeks were lost.” He continues: “The average Christian school didn’t miss a single day, and 84 percent missed less than four days.”

“In terms of just learning and academics in the light of the pandemic, Christian schools have not stopped schooling, and that’s not the case for other schools.” Hunt notes that this will be interesting to look back on 20 years from now.

Cardus

National differences

There were a few differences between countries, though overall the conclusions were similar.

Canadian graduates were more likely to volunteer their time and donate money compared to Americans and Australians, yet all three countries had relatively high percentages in these two categories.

Hunt says that the results could be considered “boring and underwhelming,” but this is a good thing. “We were comparing Christian schools across national boundaries, and the reality is there seems to be little difference between the quality of schools between countries. This is good, because it implies Christian schools deliver on what they plan to deliver on regardless of the country they’re in.”

“Canadians believe their schools most prepared them for personal relationships,” according to the Executive Summary of the report, in the category of “Life Preparation.”

When it comes to Religiosity, “It is not surprising that American graduates are the most likely to pray, as Americans, in general, are more than twice as likely as Canadians and three times as likely as Australians to pray every day. What is, perhaps, surprising is that Canadian graduates are as likely or slightly more likely than Americans to engage with religious texts.”

Ripple effects

The biggest takeaway from the report is that, regardless of country, Christian schools are making a positive impact on their students, who in turn make a positive impact on their communities.

“Parents, educators and politicians,” Hunt says, “ought to be aware of the positive and constructive role these schools play in building the common good.”

“As Christians, we have to think of education in terms of the common good. As Christians we exist in community, it’s not isolated. That community happens in Christian schooling.”

Author

  • Kristen Parker

    Kristen is a freelance writer for Christian Courier. She recently married her husband, Chris. She has a passion for words and house plants.

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