I am learning that my understanding of Christian education is not as well developed as I would like. For this reason, I have been selecting some key resources that will help me to better understand Christian education and the Christian schooling movement. I plan on sharing some of the insights I am gathering in this blog site.
I very quickly noticed how different publications repeatedly emphasize the centrality of a carefully articulated mission statement to the Christian school. As Frost (2007) summarizes, the best, or most successful Christian schools reveal a “passion” (p. 39) for its mission. The mission serves as the school’s purpose and should distinguish the school as being Christian. The mission should drive excellence in the building. When conscientiously considered and acted upon, this mission should influence policies, financial decisions, the day-to-day interactions, etc. of the school. Perhaps most importantly, the mission should provide energy and focus for the curriculum. It should answer the question “What do we expect students to be like when they leave our school?”
Mission measurement should be a whole school community effort. It should involve the Christian school board, the administration, the teachers and even the students. It should address the mission as it applies to the various disciplines that make up the school’s curriculum. Students, too, need to be asked questions that reflect the mission and its goals. Alternative forms of student assessment such as portfolios, projects and performance exhibitions can help determine overall mission attainment. In addition to assessment activities that follow classroom instruction, mission assessment can also take various other formats such as alumni and community surveys, and accreditation reviews.
I am learning that most, if not all, Christian schools have a carefully articulated mission statement. Most, if not all, appear to work conscientiously towards fulfilling their mission. However, the biggest lesson I learned in reviewing From mission to measurement (Vander Ark, 2000) is that far too many Christian schools drift away from their mission over time by failing to assess the school’s attainment on their mission. This is a key component that needs to be remembered and addressed to keep the Christian school’s mission central to all life and purpose of the school.
Frost, G. (2007). Learning from the best: Growing greatness in the Christian school. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International.
Vander Ark, D. (2000). From mission to measurement. Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Schools International.