The more I study Christian education, the more I am struck by the importance of the Christian family, which lies at the center of Christian education. For students, few things leave as indelible a mark on their personal faith as having parents who view the world through the same faith lens, model spiritual disciplines, and forge a strong partnership with the Christian school. The parental responsibilities of praying with and for your children, singing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs, and providing instruction in the Word are emphasized in Terry L. Johnson’s new book Understanding Family Worship, a wonderful primer on the regular discipline of spiritual training in the home, which I heartily commend to you. As Barbara B. Hart wrote in her 1965 hymn “A Christian Home”:

    • How sweet to know that though his footsteps waver,
      His faithful Lord is walking by his side!
      And gives his heart to Christ, the crucified:
      Where every child is taught his love and favor
      Where Christ is Head and Counselor and guide;
      O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,

Parental choice, parents’ faith, and faith transmission

Two articles in the fall 2022 issue of Research in Brief touch on families. The first, which I co-authored with ACSI Research Associate Eric Price, summarizes our recent policy study. Earlier this year, in April, we asked leaders of ACSI member schools to complete a survey on their willingness to participate in a hypothetical private school choice program given experimentally assigned regulatory conditions. Relative to a control condition with no changes to school operations or additional regulations, we found that the open enrollment mandate and the employment regulation each significantly reduced willingness to participate. A full manuscript of this study was recently published in the Journal of School Choice. Our Public Policy & Legal Affairs team is taking these results to legislators to advocate for our member schools. A hearty “Thank you!” to all who participated and made the study possible!

The second article comes from Dr. Bruce Fawcett of Crandall University in Canada and Dr. Leslie Francis and Dr. Ursula McKenna of Bishop Grosseteste University in the United Kingdom. The authors studied Canadian youth in a summer youth mission and service program. Their research confirms findings from previous studies examining the relationship between parents’ faith and faith transmission. They extend prior work, which concluded that mothers were the primary influence and that fathers were the secondary influence, by documenting evidence of a statistically significant relationship between fathers’ church attendance and youth’s faith.

The power of poetry and international schools on a mission

Dr. Albert Cheng of the University of Arkansas returns with a new article on the pedagogical power of poetry. As part of his work at the newly founded Classical Education Research Lab, Dr. Cheng summarizes the findings of a recent study conducted at a classical school in which some teachers incorporated poems about science as part of the unit. After all, education is not merely about instructing students to know about things, but to understand the nature, goodness, and beauty of the Creator behind creation.

In this issue, you’ll also find the follow-up to our first International Tuition & Salary Survey report that was published in the Spring 2022 issue of Research in Brief. In this report, ACSI Regional Director for International Schools Tim Shuman and Eric Price turn their attention to tuition, revenues, and enrollment, providing helpful insights for our international schools. The authors note a meaningful shift away from “missionary schools” to schools on a mission, reflected in changing admissions policies that allow international schools to serve broader student populations.

Concluding thoughts

Two sections make a return. In “The Latest in Education Research,” we once again survey education research articles, connecting this work to the Flourishing School Culture Model in its five domains. Our latest “Insights from Flourishing Schools Research” examines evidence on catalytic improvement communities. We conclude the issue with some thoughts from our forthcoming book Future Ready.

Issues of Research in Brief are being mailed to each member school. You can also access the latest issue online today. Thanks for joining us for another issue! Let’s pray for families where every child is taught the love and favor of Christ, as well as strong partnerships between families and Christian schools.

About the Author

Matthew Lee - ACSI AuthroMatthew H. Lee is Director of Research at ACSI. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @hmatthewlee.


Questions to Consider:

1. Does your school have an intentional plan to partner with parents with respect to spiritual formation? What does your school do to support parents in their important role? What kind of supports do schools and families need?

2. Is there a private school choice program available in your state? Has your school considered participating? Has your school leadership discussed the implications of a program becoming available?

3. How does your school’s curriculum and pedagogical philosophy help students reflect on the nature, goodness, and beauty of what they are studying? How can you support teachers to create richer lesson plans to this end?

4. What do your school’s admissions and tuition policies reveal about your school’s mission? How can school policies enhance or undermine a school’s mission?

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