Empirical and Conceptual Research on the Intersection of Religious and Public Education

Peer-Reviewed Articles

URCE_COVERNo “Slippery Slope”? An Empirical Case Study on the Effect of Secular Science Textbooks on Student Religiosity in a Christian Private School
Journal of Research on Christian Education TBD

ABSTRACT: Situated in the context of legal battles over science textbooks in both public and private schools, this empirical case study examines student religiosity scores over a three-year period following a school-wide curricular change from Christian-published to secular science textbooks in a K-12 Christian private school. The study found no statistically significant change in student religiosity scores for two subscales (p=.799, p=.232; organizational and non-organizational religiosity respectively); however, for the third subscale, intrinsic religiosity, a statistically significant increase in student religiosity was reported (p<=.001). The study suggests that the curricular change did not affect any negative change in student religiosity scores. Moreover, the study suggests that Christian private schools may utilize secular science textbooks and remain faithful to their religious missions.

Religion and Education“Religionless” Religious Private Schools? Secularizing for the Common Good through Tuition Voucher Programs
Religion & Education: A Journal of Analysis and Comment Advancing Public Understanding of Religion and Education, September, 2015

ABSTRACT: This article is a creative application of “secularizing” for the common good to the scope and function of religious private schools. Secularizing is not secularism; in fact, it transcends both secularist and religionist ideologies. As religious private schools participate in state-funded tuition voucher programs, they can “secularize” in terms of emphasis and mission, but retain their essential religious commitments. At the same time, such “religionless” religious private schools may seek to serve public needs and solve social crises rather than to simply remain internally focused. Through participation in publically funded tuition voucher programs, religious private schools may thus become a valuable and contributing voice in the public square that is focused “outward” rather than “upward” or “inward”. If religious private schools open themselves to secularizing, they can effectively partner with public school districts to meet the real and pressing needs of the community at large.

journal_schoolchoiceReligious Values and Tuition Vouchers: An Empirical Case Study of Parent Religiosity as a Factor of School Choice
Journal of School Choice: International Research and Reform, Volume 6, Issue 4, 2012

ABSTRACT: This study was designed to determine whether parent religiosity is a statistically significant school choice factor. The Duke University Religion Index (DUREL) was administered to 215 parents in an urban, PreK–12 religious private school that participated in the Ohio Educational Choice (EdChoice) voucher program. The null hypothesis that there was no statistically significant difference in parent religiosity between parents who paid private tuition and parents who utilized state-funded tuition vouchers was supported. As an empirical case study, no statistically significant difference in parent religiosity suggests that parents who choose religious private schools for their children would do so if they were financially able, because their choice is based, at least in part, on their own religiosity. Tuition vouchers make that choice possible.

Religious EducationRacial Diversity, Student Religiosity, and School Choice: An Empirical Case Study of Multi-Racial Religious Education
Religious Education 109(1): 81-92, 2013

ABSTRACT: This article comprises an empirical case study of student religiosity in the context of urban school choice. The purpose of this study was to compare student religiosity in a racially diverse religious private school to determine whether religious faith is a unifying factor across racial categories. Insofar as school choice has been called “the civil rights issue of the 21st century,” religious private schools may provide opportunities for creating intentional multi-racial school environments in the face of rapidly re-segregating public school districts. This study was conducted in 2012 at an urban religious private PreK–12 school with a 57% poverty rate, 58% minority students, and 58% of its students utilizing state-funded tuition vouchers (N = 127). Student religiosity was not found to be significantly different across racial categories. Implications are discussed in relation to public policy and the future of school choice initiatives in relation to religious private schools. The study suggests that student religiosity establishes “holy ground” upon which racial understanding, appreciation, and reconciliation can occur in a multi-racial school environment. Recommendations for reform are made for both public policy and religious education.

From Indoctrination to Initiation: A Non-Coercive Approach to Faith-Learning Integration
International Journal of Christianity & Education 17(2), 285+, 2014

ABSTRACT: This article contributes to ongoing discussions related to the nature, scope, and methods of faith-learning integration. The “initiation” approach developed by Tim McDonough (2011) is adapted to faith-learning integration in an attempt to bridge polarizing discussions regarding indoctrination versus rational autonomy and critical inquiry. The three stages of initiation are reconceived as conflict, creativity, and commitment. Using this model of initiation, teachers in Christian schools may strive toward educating students to be creative and responsive thinkers within the context of the tradition and community of the Christian faith. Ultimately, as the students of today become the scholars of tomorrow, they must be prepared to solve problems, face conflict, and deal with ambiguity. Initiation, as a non-coercive alternative to indoctrination, provides an opportunity to achieve such goals.

JSEContent-Based or Research-Driven? An Empirical Case Study of Attitudes Toward Adult Education in an American Graduate School

Journal of Studies in Education 2 (2): 93-108, 2012

ABSTRACT: This study comprises a critical comparison of graduate school student and instructor attitudes toward content-based and research-driven graduate school education. The study consisted of a literature review related to adult learning theory followed by the development of a conceptual framework for graduate school education based on the relevant literature. The study included the development of a survey instrument that correlated with the conceptual framework of the literature review. The first eight items on the instrument relate directly to the eight categories presented in the review of literature: metacognition versus memorization, critical thinking versus repetition, interdisciplinary versus disciplinary, and technology-integrated versus technology-independent. The instrument was scored by totaling the values in two categories: content-based and research-driven. The survey was administered to a sample of graduate school students in a single institution (n = 103). Three hypotheses were tested. The findings indicated that while graduate school students and instructors both value research-driven instruction over content-based instruction, perceptions concerning the actualities of instruction were found to be statistically significantly different. In light of the findings, the conclusion includes recommendations for reform in similar graduate school contexts.

CPE Journal

Individual Religious Commitment and Interdisciplinary Academic Achievement: Student Religiosity as a Factor in a National Academic Competition
Christian Perspectives in Education, 2011

ABSTRACT: This study included an examination of the differences between the religiosity of students representing both public and private schools that qualified at the state and national levels in the United States Academic Decathlon, a national, interdisciplinary academic competition. The statistical significance of religiosity in relation to achievement scores in the Academic Decathlon was examined. The literature reviewed suggested a positive correlation between religiosity and academic achievement. The Duke University Religion Index (DUREL) instrument was administered to students on both teams to determine religiosity levels. Statistical analysis was applied to the data to test for significant difference. No significant difference between overall competition scores was found in relation to reported student religiosity; neither the public nor private school scored significantly higher or lower in the competition. Significant difference in scores was found for specific subject areas. Further, no significant difference was found between student religiosity in relation to grade point average. The conclusion that student religiosity was not found to have a significant influence on competition scores in the Academic Decathlon suggests that religiosity and academic achievement may not always positively correlate. The implications for Christian education suggest that faith-learning integration should be critically examined across disciplines in Christian school settings, particularly in the subjects of mathematics and science.

Chapters in Books and Encyclopedias

The Encyclopedia of Christian Education, Lamport, M. and Kurian, J. T. (editors). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. Authored or co-authored the following entries:

Reichard, J. (2015)
1.  Humanism, Impact on Christian Education
2.  School Choice Legislation
3.  Process-Relational Philosophy

Reichard, J. and Richards, A. (2015)

4. Learning Disability

Reichard, J. and Reichard, S. (2015)
5. Giftedness



Transforming the Common Core: A Guide for Christian Educators
Parable Education Group, Amazon Kindle, 2014

During the first week of its release, Transforming the Common Core was the #2 best seller in Amazon’s Education/Curricula category.

This book provides a guide for Christian educators and Christian schools to navigate the complicated, politically-charged controversy surrounding the Common Core State Standards. Written from the perspective of a Christian school administrator, the book seeks to confront the conspiracy theories and transcend the politics of the Common Core, while affirming the Good News of the Christian faith. The book evaluates both the strengths and weaknesses of the Common Core, standardized testing (PARCC assessments), and provides a way for Christian schools to creatively transform the Common Core State Standards.


Absent in Presence But Not in Heart: A Christian Educator’s Guide to Online Learning
Vision Publishing, 2003

As one of the first books in its field, Absent in Presence But Not in Heart was a pioneering book in the early 2000s. It was adopted and used as a text at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA and had an impact on several Christian institutions that made early inroads in online learning. The byline reads, “What today’s Christian educators must know about the emerging technologies of online learning and Internet-based theological and ministerial training.” While technologies have changed, the basic premises hold true: activation and accountability are two factors that must be part of any quality online Christian learning experience while at the same time, anonymity and autonomy must be diminished. If Christian educators can accomplish these goals in an online learning environment, they can deliver a high-quality online learning experience for their students.