Thursday, December 5, 2013

There is an Academic Side to Christian School Education

Back in October, our 10th and 11th grade students took the PSAT.  This is a preliminary benchmark sort of examination that is used to predict how well students will do on their SAT, which is a college entrance and scholarship qualification exam.  It is also a measurement of the grade level expectations of high school students in the areas of language arts or verbal skills, and mathematics.  Traditionally, students at PCS do very well in both areas, though math sometimes wins out over the verbal skills simply because of the different skills that are required.

For most of the past decade, in fact, PCS has been the leading school as far as SAT results are concerned in our three county area, and proportionately produces more students who qualify for national merit status than any other school in the region.  Overall, our students score well above the state and national averages, and it is not unusual for three fourths of the students in a given class to achieve above the 50th percentile, which is considered the average score. 

Today, the large envelope with PSAT scores for grades 11 and 10 was delivered.  Our students did not disappoint.  A sophomore received the highest score of all of our students who took the test.  Based on previous indicators, we could potentially have as many as three of our juniors qualify for the National Merit Scholar competition, and perhaps three sophomores when they become juniors and take the test again next year.  We won't know until September, of course, but we are waiting in excited anticipation. 

The success that our students enjoy is something that I attribute to several factors.  1.)  We are a Christian school that operates under a Christian philosophy of education, and the motivation that many students feel comes from a desire to do their best in everything they do, because they are doing it as unto the Lord.  2) There is something to be said for small class sizes.  We have advanced math and English courses with as few as six or seven students, with a couple of them even smaller than that.  3) The curriculum is designed to be challenging, and to raise student expectations.  Students will achieve more if more is demanded of them.  4) We have a faculty that is highly qualified, dedicated to teaching, and who want to be here in this place with these students.  They, too, understand the principle of doing "unto the Lord" as well as the responsibility that God places on parents to educate their children.  5.) Parents are encouraged to be involved in the education of their children, and they are.  Our role as a school is to support parents in their role as the educators of their children.  When things are right as far as the social order is concerned, other things, like academic achievement, will fall into place.  6.) The overall atmosphere of the school community is one that is secure, comfortable, friendly and lacking in many of the social distractions that prevent students from learning in the public schools.  We aren't perfect, and things do happen to cause distractions, but they are rare, and we move quickly to get them out of the way.

We put test scores in their proper perspective.  They are not the "product" or the result of the education we provide.  They help us examine our strengths and weaknesses, and build objectives into the curriculum where they are needed.  They are primarily used to improve our instruction.  We are proud of the students who do well on them because they represent us well, and we are very glad that some of them, at least, can discover the benefits of scholarship money when they receive them.  Join me in congratulating the students and their teachers on their successful completion of this fall's PSAT.