La Sierra faculty selected for top Adventist education award

Oct. 15, 2012

By Darla Martin Tucker

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – ( For years La Sierra University faculty members Elissa Kido and Bailey Gillespie have researched academic achievement and faith commitment among Seventh-day Adventist K-12 students and families across the denomination’s North American Division, or NAD. Their findings stand to benefit the division’s school system of 65,000 students in the United States, Canada and Bermuda.

This August, during the NAD Teachers’ Conference in Nashville, the NAD’s Office of Education thanked professors Kido and Bailey with Journey to Excellence awards for their respective, long-term efforts through CognitiveGenesis and Valuegenesis projects. The educators were honored during the 6,000-teacher conference as the only Journey to Excellence awardees.

“The NAD Office of Education created and bestowed these specific awards to Dr. Kido and Dr. Gillespie for their years of service and contribution to the overall good of the educational venture in NAD,” commented Larry Blackmer, NAD vice president for education.

“It was an unexpected honor to receive this award that recognizes and celebrates the work taking place within the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education primarily through the CognitiveGenesis study,” said Kido. “The development, implementation and completion of CognitiveGenesis has truly been a journey of discovery, a process which has documented the excellence of Adventist education. While this award bears my name, it is only through the efforts of many collaborators and key financial supporters that we were able to reach the goals that are so important to all of us and to Adventist K-12 education.”

At the conference both educators spoke about their latest research findings. Kido, a curriculum and instruction professor in La Sierra’s School of Education is director of the CognitiveGenesis project housed in the Center for Research on K-12 Adventist Education. CognitiveGenesis is a four-year study, the first of its kind, to assess the academic achievement level of approximately 52,000 students in the NAD school system and compare the findings with the performance of peers in other schools. The project was carried out in conjunction with the NAD’s Office of Education.

Beginning in 2006, researchers gathered information from surveys of teachers, administrators, students, and parents about factors related to academic achievement, including uniquely Adventist factors. These survey responses along with standardized test results for students in grades 3-9 and 11 provided the basis for creating a picture of Adventist elementary and secondary academic achievement. Key findings showed that students in Adventist schools outperformed the national average in all subjects and in all grades tested and that the longer students remained in Adventist schools the better their achievements and abilities.

Gillespie, a La Sierra University theology professor, is the Valuegenesis principal investigator. He is also director of the John Hancock Center for Youth and Family Ministry at La Sierra which houses the Valuegenesis projects.

Valuegenesis comprises an ongoing landmark study of students in grades 6-12 who are enrolled in Seventh-day Adventist schools in the North American Division. The first two Valuegenesis projects were initiated in 1990 and again in 2000, with a third set of data collected in 2010.

Researchers this year completed data collection and division and conference reports for Valuegenesis 3. The latest report included assessment of student-teacher relationships and their impact on achievement. Latest data showed that 59% of students viewed their connection with teachers as important. “Students still seek out relationships with teachers,” commented Gillespie. Respondents also cited “quality Christian education” as the most important factor recognized in building student’s overall faith life, a report states, but that the faith of their immediate family, their mother’s faith, their father’s faith, and their grandparents’ faith were top influencers of students’ personal faith development.

Earlier this year Gillespie noted that the project now encompasses a data set of more than 40,000 youth.

Ginger Ketting-Weller, La Sierra’s School of Education dean attended the teachers’ conference and observed the faculty members receive their awards. “In the presentation it was noted that doctors Kido and Gillespie had contributed in a global way to the educational mission and research agenda of the North American Division Office of Education,” she said. “It was a thrill to witness two La Sierra University faculty honored in the presence of 6,000 K-12 teachers as the only individuals to receive these two major awards.”

  • Last update on  October 29, 2012