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The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI)
Leading Christ-centered education toward excellence and flourishing
We want all schools to aspire to, achieve, and remain committed to a biblically-based philosophy of education, standards that are measurable, and flourishing-related criteria. ACSI strives to lead, support, and serve Christian schools, and educators, by placing them on a path of growth and flourishing using the research-based Flourishing Schools Initiative. This model should link leadership and faculty professional development accreditation, and every culture-driving component of a school. A common philosophy, and a flourishing-based metric, would unify our efforts of advancing Christian schools and educators.
Making Christ-centered education available and obtainable
ACSI is committed to making Kingdom education available to as many children and families as desire it, believing that such an education offers students an opportunity to grow in a loving relationship with their Creator, come to know His saving work through Jesus, and flourish in His Ephesians 2:10 calling for their lives. This commitment requires removing barriers to access for those who traditionally have not benefited from Christian school, as well as seeking out new ways to create access points to Kingdom education and the ability to thrive and be successful in that education—for all those who desire it.
Promoting and protecting Christ-centered education for today and tomorrow
As the largest evangelical Christian school association in the world, ACSI is by default viewed as the spokesperson for Christian schooling in the public square. In order to discharge this responsibility with excellence and seasoned speech (Colossians 4:6), and to equip our member schools to do the same, ACSI must invest in developing public-facing resources and forming strategic relationships with those working in the area of advocacy for Christian Education and for religious liberty.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT | MARCH 1, 2021
Good Professional Development Is R.A.R.E.
When seeing “Teacher In-Service Day” on the calendar, a typical first reaction for a teacher is, “Well, there goes a day of instruction and getting any work done.” Why is this? There are probably many reasons, but I think the biggest is because many in-services are typically a wolf in sheep’s clothing (and everyone knows it’s still a wolf). In-services should not be repetitive and boring, one-size-fits-all, and just something to check off because it ends in a printable certificate.
SCHOOL LEADERSHIP | FEBRUARY 23, 2021
Flourish: A Day of Prayer for Christ-centered Education
What’s the longest length of time you’ve had a song stuck in your head? I’ve had the same song stuck in my head for months now. Ever since ACSI decided on “flourish” as the theme for this year’s fourth-annual Day of Prayer today, February 23, I’ve been humming “Thrive” by Casting Crowns to myself. Only recently, though, did I realize how the lyrics in the first verse (“Like a tree planted by the water, we never will run dry”) echo Jeremiah 17:7-8—our theme verse for today’s Day of Prayer. The chorus declares, “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive. We were made to thrive.” We were made to flourish, rooted in Christ Jesus.
ACSI Releases Findings from Latest COVID-19 Survey of Christian Schools Nationwide
Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Cardus Senior Fellow, and lead author of the report, said the findings of the survey point to the continued adaptability of Christian schools in responding to the pandemic.
“Close to 90% of Christian schools delivered on their promises to open with in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year,” Swaner said, adding that two-thirds of schools also offered distance learning in addition to in-person instruction.
The survey’s findings suggest that schools’ reopening plans were implemented with safety foremost in mind, with input from local health departments, state guidance, and advice of medical personnel ranking the highest influences on school decision-making. This was proven in schools’ widespread use of COVID-19 modifications in the areas of health and safety, scheduling and student cohorts, expanded cleaning, space usage and student activities. In addition, most schools reported zero to minimal disruption from the spread of coronavirus in their school community.
Feedback also shows that most schools will keep current practices in place into the spring, including instructional format (on campus, blended, and/or distance learning) and modifications made for scheduling, space usage, and health and safety. The lack of a major shift in these areas suggests that schools’ reopening plans have been sufficiently suited to operating within the COVID-19 context.
Regarding enrollment trends, close to half of schools reported increases or steady enrollment from the previous year. Even though many schools reported minimal enrollment losses, over 80% reported that they gained students they might not have if it was not for the virus. In addition, over a third of schools reported enrollment increases between the start of school and mid-November.
Qualitative data suggest that this uptick in new student enrollment at Christian schools is due to families’ dissatisfaction with the distance learning or limited on-campus instruction offered by other area schools.
ACSI President, Dr. Larry Taylor, remarked, “This is exciting news, and confirms what we already know—that Christian schools are delivering on their value proposition by providing a high-quality, Christ-centered educational experience that puts the needs of families and students first.”
Survey findings confirmed the pressing need for schools to care for their communities. Three-fourths of respondents stated that, out of all challenges posed by COVID-19, overwork for teachers and staff brought them the greatest concern. Presumably correlating with this concern, close to 80% of schools reported that they are supporting teacher well-being intentionally this year through additional staffing, increased HR and wellness benefits, professional development, and other means.
The report revealed that many school leaders are already thinking beyond this school year to consider post-pandemic plans. For example, of those schools with distance learning options currently in place, nearly half of them plan to either keep those options or expand them in some way beyond the pandemic.
“Although the tyranny of the COVID-urgent will continue to occupy school leaders and their teams in the spring, it is essential to begin not just looking ahead, but also learning ahead, to the post-COVID future,” Dr. Swaner said. “The goal should be to learn from their experiences and prioritize ongoing innovation and nimbleness in the school’s learning, operational, and financial models to improve missional sustainability into the future.”
For more information and to download the survey report, click here. A wide range of helpful COVID-19-related resources can also be accessed by visiting ACSI.org.
Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., ACSI exists to strengthen Christian schools and equip Christian educators worldwide as they prepare students academically and inspire them to become devoted followers of Jesus Christ. ACSI advances excellence in Christian schools by enhancing the professional and personal development of Christian educators and providing vital support functions for Christian schools through multiple services including teacher and administrator certification, school accreditation, legal/legislative assistance, and curriculum publishing. Serving more than 25,000 schools in 108 countries, ACSI helps more than 5.5 million students worldwide connect to Christian education.
Follow ACSI on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ACSIUSA or on Twitter at @ACSIUSA.
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