'Students Need God': School-Based Bible Program Having Positive Impact on Public School Kids
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An innovative Bible education program offered in public schools across Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa is having a profoundly positive impact on students' academic performance, behavior, and emotional well-being, a new survey finds.
LifeWise Academy offers religious instruction during the school day and thousands of students are seeing their lives improved by the curriculum.
New data confirms the program is also positively affecting public school metrics like attendance, instruction hours, and classroom participation.
Ambassador Enterprises commissioned a third-party data research firm, Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA), to gather and analyze data from 6,478 different schools across Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa, to understand the effectiveness of LifeWise programming in their region.
In 76 of the studied schools, LifeWise Academy has been in place for multiple school years.
And the survey found that the schools' attendance rate increased in just the first year of the program – most attendance improved by nearly 7%.
Additionally, student participation increased by 10% in a LifeWise program school.
In the second and third years, schools with LifeWise programming saw improvements in discipline, with declines in both in-school and out-of-school suspensions.
These results have led to a net increase in instruction hours for schools with LifeWise programming.
"As I travel across the country and hear from more and more parents and public school educators...I grow even more confident that our program is absolutely invaluable to the students and communities where we serve," said Joel Penton, Founder of LifeWise Academy in a statement.
"We know that when students receive religious instruction, they experience spiritual growth and improved mental health. Their behavior and classroom participation improves, and teachers and parents are provided with a critical lifeline to help students become a more positive influence among their peers. Our Bible classes ensure students not only attain knowledge but also are inspired with wisdom that will shape their character," he continued.
Penton added that the positive results allow him to make a case to other schools to implement the LifeWise program.
He recently told CBN Digital, "So now it's a much easier case when we go to principals … and superintendents, even if they're not Christians to say, 'Hey, do you want your attendance to go up? Do you want suspensions to go down? Here's a program that doesn't cost you a penny; it engages the community and will have this impact.'"
School administrators, like Central Ohio Principal Shalonda Likely-Roach, also report progress connected to LifeWise.
"LifeWise has made a positive impact on students' attendance, behavior, and social, and emotional well-being," said Likely-Roach. "It provides confidence and a sense of belonging for students. They have learned compassion. Our school's average daily attendance goal is 90% or above each day. Consistently, on the day our students participate in LifeWise, grades 4 and 5 meet and/or surpass our attendance goal. Disciplinary infractions for students who participate in LifeWise have decreased significantly."
As CBN News reported, the organization's approach to Biblical education gives them a unique advantage to have a lasting impact on children's lives.
"LifeWise is what's known as a released time religious instruction program (RTRI). Little do most people realize that in 1952, the Supreme Court ruled that public school students can be released from school during school hours, that's the key phrase, 'during the school day,' they can be released to receive religious classes as long as the program is off school property, privately funded, and with parental permission."
He continued, "So this has been around for 70 years, but it has just been under the radar and we discovered that this was possible just a few years ago, really, in 2018. And we said, 'Boy, what if we put a program together that could be plug-and-play so that any community anywhere could launch a program to reach their local students?' And it was off to the races."
One of the components that make the program successful is passionate educators, community leaders, and parents who want the Word of God to impact their students.
Cynthia Lampkins helped start a LifeWise Academy in her community because she felt it was important.
"I know that students need God in public schools and they are not getting that and because of that they are struggling," shared Lampkins. "Any way to be able to help our students develop a relationship with God I'm going to sacrifice whatever I have to to help with that."
Julie Coffman, director of LifeWise Upper Arlington, shared in a video that LifeWise is a new wave of evangelism.
"I can't wait to see what Heaven's going to look like when we see the impact of a whole group coming together with that same mission," Coffman said.
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