If this has legs I imagine we'll be hearing about it again and again...and again.

Church Attendance Boosts Student GPAs - LiveScience.com article

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Homepage

Wiki overview of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health

Religious Involvement and Educational Outcome PDF of the data analysis (33 pages)

Tags: education, religion

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"Surprisingly, the importance of religion to teens had very little impact on their educational outcomes," Glanville said. "That suggests that the act of attending church -- the structure and the social aspects associated with it -- could be more important to educational outcomes than the actual religion."

It's interesting to me that that a sociologist would be surprised by this.

Strong social ties, no matter the context, are more important to development than the system of faith they're prescribing to? You don't say.
Actually no, not at all from what I've read thus far.

They do equate increased "non-sports" extracurricular participation to church attendance as well. It even suggests that kids in sports have better attendance then non-sports kids but the sports kids don't have the improved GPA like the church kids.

Keep in mind the study isn't suggesting a 'goddidit' sort of approach. There's a continuing theme throughout the paper pointing out that it's the social and disciplinary aspects of the church-going that are at work.

Of course this fact will be ignored or skewed by those whom would use the headline and a brief skimming of the study for evil.
Well, first, the improvement to the students' GPA was a mere .144 higher. That's really not much.
Second, the study found that the importance of religion had very little impact on their educational outcomes.

It's not about going to church, I don't think. It's about community and socialization.

In the other studies cited in this article, did they compare people who meditate regularly as well as just church goers? That might be interesting to compare. And again, in each of those studies, it says that the researchers cite the social network and psychological benefits of churches. Nothing mystical about that.

But you're right, if you want to take this out of context, I'm sure the christians will love this report and will have more justification for indoctrinating their kids into the woo cult of the christian god.
If they are including Catholic school children, I wonder if they are adjusting for children attending private schools versus children attending public schools.

As a former Catholic school boy, I must admit, those guys don't mess around when it comes to education. If this study includes an appreciable number of school kids from private schools in areas where the public schools are glorified babysitting, that might account for the difference.
It wouldn't be difficult to control for such things at all, but it wouldn't be the first time I have seen a "study" fail to do so.The report doesn't even detail how the structure of the test really worked and made a reference to some other document that I don't feel like looking for. :P

However, naysaying asside, I would say that a lot of their findings are probably correct. This is precisely why Secular Humanists and other such groups are so necessary.
Well taken from the article they point out 4 factors which they believe were aiding the students:
* They have regular contact with adults from various generations who serve as role models.
* Their parents are more likely to communicate with their friends' parents.
* They develop friendships with peers who have similar norms and values.
* They're more likely to participate in extracurricular activities.

All of these can be accomplished in a secular environment... it's merely the fact that churches are established forums of social networking that most atheistic families don't have ready-made for them to join in. Of course I'm all for changing this state of affairs.

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