Evaluating Results of Classical, Christian Education

Written by Ryan Evans on March 25th, 2020

Results in most organizations are measured in terms of sales, numbers, or products success. But how do we measure results in classical, Christian education? What is the “product” of such an endeavor? Is it even possible to measure results? Caution is needed when using consumerist language with schooling, as the end “product” is ultimately the cultivation of a human being. With caveats, however, we can measure the success of our organization by assessing our graduates.

A. Assumptions and Challenges
To be clear, this is a dangerous task requiring a few clarifications on the front end:

  1. Measuring school results is more complicated than assessing results from a restaurant or bookstore. Because education is a partnership, results are an amalgamation of efforts from parents, church, and school.
  2. In order to measure our success, we need to do so in accordance with our mission statement. Specifically, the focus is training young people to, “Think and act biblically and to pursue academic excellence in joyful submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
  3. Ultimately, we’re attempting to quantify the unquantifiable. A qualitative approach is ideal, so we’ve asked questions that point to the preparation students received in preparation for lives of academic and spiritual faithfulness vis-a-vis our mission.
  4. Conducting such a survey comes with inherent risk of exposing school weaknesses which could prove demoralizing. Data like this is not readily available from other school, making it difficult to use for comparison purposes. Nevertheless, we boldly proceeded through these relatively uncharted waters.

B. Practical Details and Demographics
Below are practical details, including methodological and structural clarifications:

  1. Our Alumni Survey was sent via email to all graduates for whom we had email addresses (nearly 100% of Providence graduates).
  2. This was an anonymous survey, as respondents tend to be more candid with anonymity.
  3. We asked 28 questions focusing on a variety of areas ranging from college preparedness to current church attendance. Questions were focused on how well we meet our mission.
  4. Overall response rate was 67%. In the statistical world, this was encouraging and important in providing statistically valid data from which to draw conclusions.
  5. We found quite a bit of diversity in our graduates: responses were provided by classes or graduates spanning from over a fifteen-year period between 2003 and 2018. Many are in the work force in areas ranging from nursing to business to computer science; some are married and have children.

C. The Results
We were thrilled with our survey results and the feedback from our graduates. As you can see from the Alumni Survey data at www.pccs.org/academics, the academic and spiritual growth in our graduates is encouraging. We found areas we can continue to focus on as we execute our mission, but overall the data strongly supports that we are fulfilling our mission, that our graduates are well prepared for life after high school, and that they are spiritually engaged with a love for God’s Word. Quantifiable scores must be taken with some degree of caution given the nature of what we are evaluating. But over the results suggest that graduates are living lives of purpose, meaning, and Christian faithfulness.