Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2007 Volume 3 :: Article 3
2007 Volume 3, Article 3
Religion, Intact Families, and the Achievement Gap

Author: William H. Jeynes (California State University at Long Beach)

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Using analyses of the National Education Longitudinal Study (NELS) and meta-analysis, I present data that indicate that in religious, mostly Christian, schools, the achievement gap between white and minority students, as well as between children of high- and low-socioeconomic status, is considerably smaller than in public schools. I then undertake statistical analyses to indicate why this is the case, including examining school culture, the encouragement of religious commitment, and an emphasis on the family. One of the most notable findings that emerges from this study is that using the NELS dataset, when African American and Latino children who are religious and come from intact families are compared with white students, the achievement gap disappears. Other findings indicate that religious schools have more racial harmony, fewer drug problems, and a more demanding curriculum than do public schools, features that probably help to explain the smaller achievement gap.

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