Salt Lake City – A return of a new school year offers an opportunity to reflect on the elevated learning standards for students introduced last year in the seminary program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After one year of inviting students who attend to read the book of scripture being studied and pass a learning assessment each semester, the results in the United States are:
- a jump from 71% to 77% of students meeting the attendance expectation
- nearly 80% of students completing the course reading, up 33% from the previous year
- 81% of enrolled students passing the end of semester assessments
“After one year, what we are seeing is extremely positive. More students received credit this year than last year,” said Chad Webb, Administrator, Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. “The ultimate beneficiaries are the students who were given more opportunities to deepen their conversion through meaningful classroom experiences and personal scripture study.” He added that “the most exciting thing for us to see is the increase in the number students reading the scriptures.”
Said Carson Dover, Viewmont High School: “I was glad they made changes because it helped get us involved and learn more and not just sit in the back of the class and do nothing. It allowed us to feel the spirit and learn more about the gospel.”
“Overall it was positive and the students responded to the invitation to do more and to learn more,” said Alec Barrow, who teaches at the Springville seminary. “Adding new graduation requirements allowed us as teachers to focus on and emphasize key doctrines while teaching lessons to students. It helped students to focus on those doctrines and gave them power to look at their life and that of their friends and their family and helped them to find answers to their questions.”
“My son did not take it seriously at first and needed to do the assessment more than once,” said Michelle Walker, a Salt Lake City mother of a high school junior attending seminary. “That ended up being the best thing for us. We sat down together and studied together and read together. This was a great family experience for us. We did it together so that he could accomplish it.”
The seminary program is offered to students in high school grade levels. It is a four year program where students spend time reading and learning about the scriptures. Usually, seminaries meet early in the morning before regular school hours. In areas with significant Latter-day Saint teen populations, some high schools offer released-time for students to take seminary. Students are allowed one period during the day and do not receive school credit for seminary attendance. After four years, students can graduate from seminary.
There are approximately 400,000 young men and women enrolled in seminary around the world.