Christian schools around the nation are seeing continued growth in enrollment, even as public school attendance continues to drop.
According to a recent study, eight out of 10 Christian school leaders say demand for Christian education is increasing in their area, and the same number report their enrollment has grown since the pandemic.
As demand and enrollments swell, schools are scrambling to find new space, whether through partnerships with churches or through new construction.
Northland Christian Schools in Kansas City, Missouri is doing both. Last year the school opened a new elementary and early childhood site in neighboring Kearney through a partnership with a local church. The school also announced the purchase of multiple modular buildings to accommodate another 80 students at their main campus.
“The prayer for these 80 new students is that they will grow in their ability to learn, love, and lead the world of Christ,” the school said in a statement.
Northland has also purchased a neighboring church building to house its pre-K offerings, and the school is constructing a sports complex for football, track and baseball. A second phase of the project is to include the construction of new educational space.
Similar stories of growth and expansion are taking place all around the country.
One major factor has to do with the lasting effects of COVID-19 public school closures.
According to a report from the Association of Christian Schools International (ASCI), Christian schools reopened for in-person instruction “much sooner” than public schools during the pandemic, leading to much better performance outcomes.
Studies are now showing that public schools are suffering a huge drop in math and reading scores while ASCI schools are reporting higher student achievements.
“The average [ACSI] student scored more than 10 points above the national norm in mathematics and roughly 20 points above the national norm in reading,” the agency reported. “ACSI schools managed this feat each year of the pandemic.”
Data from the Nation’s Report Card, which includes public schools and Catholic schools, also reveals Catholic school students have the nation’s highest scores on all four NAEP tests, with students on average testing 1 1/2 grade levels ahead of the standard.
A related factor driving Christian school growth is the parental rights and school choice movements.
Dissatisfied with the performance and controversial curricula of local public schools, parents are expressing the desire to decide where their children go to school, and to be informed about and have a say in what is being taught.
Many state legislatures, particularly in conservative states, have taken notice and passed parental rights bills, addressing the desire for more transparency and parental control of a child’s education, and established school choice programs, offering families funding that can be used for private school tuition.
As more families become eligible for school choice “scholarships,” the demand for Christian education is likely to continue to rise.
“Since the first year affected by COVID (2019-20), ACSI schools have grown 35% on average,” the Christian school group reported in December. “Private Christian schools have gone above and beyond to serve their families, and they have flourished through the pandemic as a result.”