The Findings on Flourishing

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Jesus promises us, "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit" (John 15:5b). This scripture reminds us of a beautiful image: through Christ, communities of faith can collectively flourish. This includes Christian schools and their families. The question can sometimes be, “How?” If there is a roadmap to school flourishing, what are the mile markers?

In 2018, ACSI Research sought to answer these very questions through rigorous research on Christian school cultures, by using a validated research tool—the Flourishing School Culture Instrument (FSCI). Over six months, ACSI collected more than 15,000 survey responses from member schools across the United States. 

The findings? Flourishing school culture can be organized into five domains: Purpose; Relationships; Teaching & Learning; Expertise & Resources; and Well-Being. These domains, which are the building blocks of the Flourishing School Culture Model, provide a comprehensive picture of the areas in which Christian schools can focus their efforts to better their school culture. 

Both the Instrument and the Model have been foundational in establishing the Advancing Pillar of ACSI’s Strategic Plan and work together in offering schools 1) a multi-stakeholder assessment to ascertain strengths, weaknesses, and benchmark comparisons and 2) a research-validated model through which these findings can be understood and applied. Over 100 Christian schools have trusted the FSCI to inform their strategic vision and mission thus far.

“The FSCI was a tremendous exercise for our entire community,” said Jennifer Thompson, Superintendent of Ontario Christian School in Ontario, CA. “The results easily identified strengths and growth opportunities, several of which had been identified as action items in our strategic plan. This confirmation, as well as the comparison of our school with others nationwide, helped us see broader trends in the educational space,” Thompson said. 

And it’s only getting better. New this year, the FSCI is automated through an online platform, putting school administrators in the driver’s seat for conducting the assessment on their own timeline. 

Dr. Lynn Swaner, ACSI Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer & Cardus Senior Fellow said, “We know how important flexibility is during these uncertain times. Transitioning the FSCI to an online platform has been key in making it easy for our school leaders to assess where their communities are at and implement the changes they need so they can flourish.”

The Flourishing School Culture Instrument is just one example of how ACSI is strategically aligning efforts with the Three Strategic Pillars: Advancing, Access, & Advocacy. We look forward to sharing the fruits of this new vision in the coming months and years!

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