New La Sierra Center To Help Adventist K-12 Schools

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Elissa Kido is the first director for La Sierra University's Center for Research on Adventist Education. She'll oversee the Center's activities, which are designed to strengthen Adventist education at all levels.

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Educators and administrators across the North American Division and beyond have a new resource to help propel Seventh-day Adventist schools to greater excellence. The Center for Research on Adventist Education opened in January in the School of Education at La Sierra University. Its special focus is applied research to benefit K-12 education.

“The new Center builds upon the successful CognitiveGenesis study and the thought-provoking National Summit on Adventist Education held last October at La Sierra,” says University Provost Steve Pawluk. “We’re hoping that the Center will be on the speed dial of each educator and church administrator who desires the benefits of cutting-edge research and ideas on Adventist schools.”

Elissa Kido, Ed.D., Center director, says that the first project, now underway, is creating a decision-making tool for Adventist parents. They will be able to enter information about their child and see a projection, based on existing research, of where their child would stand academically after varying numbers of years in Adventist schools.

“We know from the CognitiveGenesis research that students in Adventist schools outperform their peers in every subject, at every grade level, and in every type of school,” says Dr. Kido. “This tool will help parents to see for their own child what difference Adventist schools could make in educational performance.”

Researchers working with the Center will be able to use data gathered in CognitiveGenesis, the largest study ever done on academic performance in Adventist schools. Over the past four years, researchers have analyzed student performance in every classroom across the North American Division.

“Beyond test scores,” says Kido, “we also studied what factors in home, school, and church improve student learning. We found, for example, that when principals and teachers have the support of pastors and churches, students actually do better in school.”

Already, researchers have been exploring the impact of school financing, school size, and student health on educational outcomes. Findings have also spurred the creation of a task force at the North American Division level to improve the teaching of math computation system-wide. While students in Seventh-day Adventist schools score above the national average in math, says Kido, the sub-area of math computation is one in which educators believe more progress can be made.

The School of Education dean, Clinton Valley, Ed.D., notes that the Center has six main purposes:

  1. Establish partnerships with schools, conferences, and unions to strengthen educational programs, professional development, and teacher education.
  2. Support and guide studies initiated and conducted by teachers and staff.
  3. Mentor doctoral students doing research on what works in Seventh-day Adventist education.
  4. Collaborate with educators and other experts on school improvement ideas.
  5. Assist in evaluating the effectiveness of innovative programs and policies.
  6. Share with the broader Adventist community important information about issues in education that impact their schools and their children.

“University educators stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their K-12 colleagues,” says La Sierra Provost Pawluk, whose professional experience includes years as a teacher at the academy level and service as a conference superintendent of education. “Their research can provide real, tangible assistance to teachers and administrators. We are delighted that La Sierra University will continue to enjoy a vital, supportive, and constructive role in Adventist education for years to come.”

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