The CognitiveGensis Study

Moving Hearts and Minds Upward




In all grades, in schools of all sizes, students in Adventist schools outperformed the national average in all subjects.*

* After Controlling for Ability

Academic Performance of Students in Adventist Schools

The CognitiveGenesis study set out to answer these two related questions:

  1. How well are students doing academically in the Adventist school system?
  2. How does academic performance in Adventist schools compare to academic performance in public schools and other private schools?

Standardized Iowa achievement tests provided data about the students, but context and meaning would come from a comparison group.

The researchers selected the 2005 national norm group for comparison which included students from public schools (90%), Catholic schools (5%) and private non-Catholic schools (5%).

In the results shown here, the 50th percentile is the national average. Anything above this represents above average academic achievement.

Results by GradePercentile Ranking

GradeAll StudentsAll SDA Education
Grade 36066
Grade 46169
Grade 56068
Grade 65766
Grade 75972
Grade 86373
Grade 96272
Grade 116879

Results by SubjectPercentile Ranking

GradeAll StudentsAll SDA Education
Language Arts6270
Social Studies5967
Sources of Information5978

Achievement by ability level

Ability test scores were used to divide students in Adventist schools into four groups (left column) based on their aptitude. Actual achievement scores were significantly higher than predicted (right column).

Abilities test percentile rankDifference from Predicted Score


Academic Achievement of Adventist School Students

In addition to using achievement tests to see how well students in Adventist schools were acquiring knowledge, the CognitiveGenesis study used ability tests (also called aptitude tests) to assess how well students could think and reason in such areas as verbal skills, comprehension and problem solving.

There’s a correlation between ability and achievement tests. With a fair degree of accuracy, the results of aptitude tests can be used to predict how well students will do on achievement tests. However, when the CognitiveGenesis researchers compared the predictions against actual achievement scores, they were in for a surprise. Students in Adventist schools were consistently doing better academically than had been predicted. They were overachievers in the best sense of the word.


Students in Adventist schools had higher-than-expected academic achievement based on an assessment of individual ability.