School & District Management

Rural Education

June 13, 2001 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Church and School: Rural high school students who were significantly involved in church activities generally got better grades and were more popular than their less involved counterparts, say researchers who looked at 450 families in north-central Iowa.

The researchers also found that if students increased their involvement in church life over the high school years, their grades—although not their standing among their peers—tended to go up.

“The more religious you became, the better,” in terms of grades and self-perceived achievement, said Valarie E. King, a professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University in University Park.

Ms. King did the study of church involvement for a larger research project on rural children undertaken in the mid-1990s by Glen H. Elder Jr. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Rand D. Conger at Iowa State University. The findings from the research were published in the 2000 book Children of the Land: Adversity and Success in Rural America.

Ms. King’s survey suggests that church activity builds academic and social competence. Church attendance and church-youth-group participation—the two measures of involvement used in the study—seem to work through “placing kids in a community with prosocial values, where other adults are looking out for the kids, and they are sharing with peers,” Ms. King said. In addition, the groups offer leadership opportunities.

The benefits of increased involvement over the high school years extended to young people from backgrounds often associated with greater risk of failure—such as living in poverty or having parents who suffered from depression. “Higher levels of religious participation also predicted [more positive] outcomes for these kids,” Ms. King said, though their involvement in church activities as of the 8th grade did not.

Craig B. Howley, the director of the Educational Resources Information Center Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, based in Charleston, W.Va., cautioned against drawing overly broad conclusions from the study, noting that it focused on an area in Iowa that has a larger share of farm families than most places in the United States.

He also cautioned against seeing grades as a measure of intellectual attainment. “They are a very good measure of compliance” with teacher expectations, as church involvement may be a good measure of compliance with community expectations, he argued.

—Bess Keller

A version of this article appeared in the June 13, 2001 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Personalized Learning Webinar
No Time to Waste: Individualized Instruction Will Drive Change
Targeted support and intervention can boost student achievement. Join us to explore tutoring’s role in accelerating the turnaround. 
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools
Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Learn to Talk to Each Other Again: 4 Tips for Schools
Schools can play a vital role in helping all of us begin talking to each other again in more civil, meaningful ways.
3 min read
Three individuals connected by jigsaw puzzle speech bubbles over their heads.
iStock/Getty Images Plus
School & District Management Flu, Colds, RSV: How Schools Can Help Keep Kids Healthy as Illness Increases This Winter
Drawing on lessons from the pandemic, schools can invest in air filtration and other tried-and-true health measures.
3 min read
Close-up of elementary student disinfecting hands at school due.
Drazen Zigic/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Video Tools Don't Have to Distract. Five Tips Show School Leaders How to Harness Them
Newsletters and announcements don’t always do the trick. Principals can use videos to improve their relationships with students.
4 min read
Image of a woman recording herself.
fizkes/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Quick Hacks: How Schools Can Cut Costs and Help the Environment
Schools can take advantage of tax credits and grants offered in the climate change spending package Congress passed this year.
3 min read
Newly installed solar panels stretch out along the north side of Madison-Grant High School near Fairmount, Ind., on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.
Newly installed solar panels stretch out along the north side of Madison-Grant High School near Fairmount, Ind., on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017.
Jeff Morehead/The Chronicle-Tribune via AP