Religious Activity And Educational Success
Special Report - September 8, 2010
Students who are involved in religious activities on a regular basis have higher grade point averages, spend more time on their homework, and are much less likely to drop out of high school, according to a new report co-released today by the Family Research Council and the North Carolina Family Policy Council. The report, Religious Practice and Educational Attainment, is a compilation of various studies that highlight the relationship between religious practice in the home and positive educational achievement for students. It was written by Patrick Fagan, Ph.D., senior fellow and director of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at FRC.
The report highlights one study that found that students who attended religious activities weekly or more frequently had a GPA 14.4 percent higher than students who never attended religious activities. Also, students who attend church weekly have significantly more years of schooling by their early 30s than their peers who never attend church, according to the report. Additionally, the report notes that student religious activity is “correlated with a 10 percent decrease in the likelihood of dropping out of high school (for example, one study found that 9.1 percent of students who attended church often dropped out of school, versus 19.5 percent of students who attended church infrequently).
Another key finding in the report is that “religious practice is especially beneficial to the poor.” Dr. Fagan writes, “Religious practice benefits the poor more than it does those children who are relatively well-off, likely because religion is one of the very few well-functioning institutions the poor can readily access and rely upon.” He cites an analysis of a the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that found that church attendance has a more positive benefit on the academic performance of young people in lower-income neighborhoods than on young people from more affluent neighborhoods.
The report also examined how religious practice impacts educational performance. According to Fagan, religious practice helps students to internalize values and norms, build strong work habits, have high personal expectations, and avoid risky behaviors. He also notes that, “families that share religious involvement, and parents who have stable marriages, inculcate these values and expectations in their children,” and churches provide students with mentoring, community and resources.
The report does note that for some students, religious practice may actually “impede educational achievement,” most often in “fundamentalist” religious communities that tend to discourage higher education.
“Education is widely recognized as the way to maintain the well-being of those born into the middle class,” writes Dr. Fagan in the report. “It is also a powerful tool to raise individuals out of poverty…If religious practice were to have a significantly positive role in education, then the practice of religion would have profound implications for world economies and societies.”
A full copy of the report, including charts, can be downloaded here.
Tracking the Importance of Family and Faith - FNC Spring, 2010
New Study Emphasizes Family and Religion - December 16, 2008
Study Finds Teens from Religious Families Delay Sex Longer - January 30, 2006
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