The Practicing Faith Survey helps faith-based schools to assess their impact on students’ faith formation. In today’s data-driven climate, Christian schools need evidence that shows the value of their work. Teachers need evidence of how students are growing so that they can improve their teaching. Parents need grounds for confidence that your school is really accomplishing what it claims to accomplish.
Academic grades are only part of this picture, and don’t tell us about students’ spiritual growth. The Practicing Faith Survey helps schools to collect information about other areas of student growth that are vital to their mission.
There are various approaches to assessing students’ faith formation. We could ask them whether they agree with key Christian beliefs. We could ask them about their experiences of God. We could find out whether they attend church or pray at home.
Each of these might tell us something useful, though each is vulnerable to students telling us what they think we want to hear. A common limitation is that they have little immediate connection to how students approach their learning tasks or how teachers design their teaching practices. They do not do enough to help a school to be a Christian school. The Practicing Faith Survey is an attempt to help students and teachers to think more clearly about what it means to be a Christian student, and how schools can support students in that calling.
Benefits of the Practicing Faith Survey
What This Survey Provides
The Practicing Faith Survey is designed to assess your students’ investment in a range of Christian practices that are directly connected to various aspects of learning in school. Rather than just focusing on what they believe or whether they attend worship, it asks about whether they engage in practices connected to knowing God, caring for others in the school community, seeking truth, discerning our motives, and serving the needs of the wider world. It offers a broad picture of Christian engagement, not just a test of orthodoxy.
Can Faith Be Graded?
The survey does not grade students or schools. We cannot offer data that says that your students are now 73% humble or a B+ in loving their neighbor. What we can do is investigate how students are applying Christian faith to various aspects of their daily life as a student.
Can Teaching Support Faith?
Focusing on students’ practices, rather than just what they say they believe or whether they pray, creates an opening to re-examine teaching practices. As students complete the survey and discover to what degree various kinds of Christian practices characterize their life as a student, you will receive feedback on the overall pattern of responses. This will give you a way to map strengths and weaknesses in how the school’s educational efforts are supporting students in their calling to Christian learning.
What Can You Learn?
Individual student responses are kept anonymous to promote honest responses and valid data. (We tend to answer differently when we think someone is looking over our shoulder). What you will be able to access as a school leader is overall data on the trends in your students’ responses. This data can be used to prompt and inform conversations with teachers and with parents about what makes the school Christian and where the school is improving (or needs to improve). It can help you to know whether you are fulfilling your mission, and what areas you should be working on next. Check the links for more information on who made the survey, why it is valid, what it costs, and what is included.