research initiative looks at flourishing school cultures How do Christian schools flourish? What elements of school culture contribute to flourishing, and do some elements matter more than others? Does flourishing look different across different schools—rather than a one-size-fits-all definition? Is there a roadmap to school flourishing that is backed by empirical research in Christian schools?

The answers to these questions matter for Christian schools to improve and grow—in teaching and learning, spiritual formation and discipleship, engaging and serving the community, and modeling leadership and best educational practice. A flourishing Christian school is a community of students, educators, and families that glorifies Christ, and that excels in knowing Him and making Him known. Though such a community happens entirely by His grace, it does not happen at all by accident.

Working with school leaders almost three years ago, ACSI developed the Formative-to-Flourishing Continuum, which has proven helpful to schools as a self-reflective tool—encouraging them to ask thoughtful questions about their culture and improvement trajectory. A year ago, ACSI Research and Thought Leadership set out on the next step in understanding school flourishing—to explore these questions systematically, through rigorous research on Christian school culture.

To date, a comprehensive review of the academic literature and expected Christian school outcomes has informed the development of a Flourishing School Culture Instrument, which is ready to be launched in fall 2018. The results will be groundbreaking, both for the individual schools that participate and the Christian school sector as a whole.

Invitation to Participate

Because of the importance of this research and its results for Christian schools, funding has been secured for a select number of schools to participate at no cost in the initial administration. Participation in fall 2018 will enable schools to receive:

  • Advance access to key national insights revealed from the assessment
  • A school-level report showing your school’s Flourishing School Culture results benchmarked alongside national averages
  • Insights on your school culture that can inform your school improvement and strategic planning efforts
  • Evidence of your school’s unique strengths, that can be shared with prospective families and members of your school community

In keeping with standard research practice, school-level reports will be shared only with the school leadership and will not be made publicly available; additionally, no individual responder within your school will be identifiable in the report.

What’s Involved

The assessment will be available starting October 1, 2018, and will run through December 2018. Once accepted into the administration group, school leaders will be provided with online assessment survey links and reminders for staff, students, parents, and alumni (if accessible), along with sample invitation language and timelines to facilitate an easy implementation.

Because there is only funding for a limited number of schools to participate, it is important that schools indicate their interest as early as possible. School leaders can obtain more information and indicate their interest by clicking here. By raising your hand to participate, you are making an investment not only in your school’s growth and improvement, but also in a flourishing Christian school movement.

About the Author

Dr. Lynn Swaner is the Director of Thought Leadership at ACSI, where she leads initiatives to address compelling questions and challenges facing Christian education. Prior to joining ACSI she served as a Christian school administrator and a graduate professor of education. A published scholar and conference speaker, she is the lead editor of the book PIVOT: New Directions for Christian Education, co-author of Bring It to Life: Christian Education and the Transformative Power of Service-Learning (forthcoming 2018), and editor of the ACSI blog. She received her EdD from Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City. She can be reached via email at