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Faith, Faith-Based Schools, And Family Stability Are Keys To Bridging The Achievement Gap, A Study Presented At Harvard Finds

By: for Religious News Services on March 8, 2012

Cambridge Massachusetts- In a large research synthesis study presented at Harvard University over the weekend, personal religious faith emerged as the most important factor that was associated with the greatest reduction in the achievement gap, followed by family stability. Dr. William Jeynes, a Senior Fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, New Jersey and a Harvard graduate, shared the findings of his research synthesis that included over 1 million student subjects in a 1 hour presentation before a receptive audience of professors and students. Dr. Jeynes’ research synthesis indicated that past attempts to bridge the gap have been largely unsuccessful. However, certain factors that have been overlooked by social scientists apparently exert the strongest influence in shrinking the gap, of the factors researchers have examined over the years. In addition to personal religious faith and family stability, the study indicated the attending a faith-based schools reduced the achievement gap.

Dr. Jeynes asserted that if the nation wants to eliminate the achievement gap, “it will take having a more integrative and broad view of the factors that can potentially play a role.” He continued by stating, “Simply relying on state school based initiatives to reduce the achievement gap is neither realistic nor helpful to children of color. According to a variety of surveys over the years. African Americans and Latinos are the two groups that are most likely to declare that their faith is important to them. If we dismiss their faith as irrelevant, we are not only displaying intolerance, but we are probably exacerbating the achievement gap, because we are discouraging them from drawing from a source of strength in their lives.” Dr. Jeynes made a similar assertion when he recently spoke before the House Education Committee of the Arizona House of Representatives to encourage them to pass legislation to have the Bible as Literature taught in the public schools. That bill passed 42-15.

Dr. Jeynes asserted that, “If we want to be a country that has bridged the achievement gap, we need to embrace the value of the two parent intact family and acknowledge the strength and sense of purpose that children derive from faith and attending faith-based schools.”

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