What drives student performance in the classroom? Is it a great facility, outstanding curriculum, peer pressure, parental pressure, fear of failure, technology, classical training or additional funding?
While each of those listed items has had some modicum of success, there is no consistent correlation between them and student achievement. As the debate rages over Common Core, U.S. SAT results came in lower again this past year. Many of our nation’s high school students struggle to read, write or do basic arithmetic at grade school levels.
While there can be complex and differing reasons for the struggles of any individual child, there are some over-arching generalities that come out of any investigation.
1. School culture is an important part of any successful learning environment.
A positive, nurturing environment that has high expectations of students and teachers tends to deliver better results. By “results” I mean a combination of test scores, graduation rates, further education and character development that consistently improve over time. A school culture built around constant testing, social promotion and one size fits all teaching methodologies will discourage individual student development.
2. A clean, safe, well lit and personalized facility is more conducive to learning than a cold, antiseptic and monochromatic building in need of repair or renovation.
3. Involved parents provide a great incentive for student learning, while disinterested or uninvolved parents can dissuade even good students from performing to their peak level.
4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Students who feel their teachers care about them, know who they are and are passionate about teaching achieve significantly better than students learning from the same curriculum from competent but dispassionate staff. Walk into any vibrant classroom and you immediately sense that learning is going on; students are engaged, teachers are smiling and there is an energy available for use by anyone who wants to learn. Walk into a lecture dictated straight out of a textbook and you normally start thinking about nap time just like all of the students in the room.
The above list may seem self-evident to many of you, but it is apparently not self-evident to many educational bureaucracies around this country where mass production of educational services dictates the touch and feel of every classroom. The issue of meaning and purpose must be addressed for each student. It is not a good reason to teach, learn, listen and engage simply “because the system said so.”
In fact, just the opposite is found to be true. Students respond and give effort to understanding and learning because “this material has meaning and helps to understand God’s purposes in creating me as I am.”
Who We Are in the Christian School Community:
Heritage Christian Academy is a Pre-K through 12th grade Christian school with campuses in both Olathe and Overland Park, Kansas. We realize that there are many good options in Olathe/Overland Park for Christian school education. But, as the above post articulates, we are constantly looking for ways to keep our students engaged in the learning process. A student who learns to fight apathy and cynicism early in life is one who lives a healthy, productive adult life.
To visit our full school site, go to www.hcakc.org.