New report demonstrates LifeWise Academy increases attendance and decreases suspensions for public school students

Category: Press

Author: Phillip Fox

“Disciplinary infractions for students that participate in LifeWise have significantly decreased.” – Central Ohio Principal Shalonda Likely-Roach

Press Release: JDA Worldwide for LifeWise Academy

Nov. 1, 2023

COLUMBUS, OH — LifeWise Academy a program that provides Bible education to public school students during school hours strives to complement the efforts of public school teachers inside the classroom, with a goal of improving student character and academic achievement. From a quantitative perspective, the statistical evidence of LifeWise’s positive impact on school attendance and discipline is strong. 

Ambassador Enterprises commissioned a third-party data research firm, Thomas P. Miller & Associates (TPMA), to gather and analyze data from 6,478 different schools across Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, to understand the effectiveness of LifeWise programming in their region. In 76 of the studied schools, LifeWise Academy has been in place for multiple school years.

As shown in Figure III, the data indicates that in the first year of LifeWise programming, a school’s attendance rate increases. As student participation increased by 10% in a LifeWise program, school attendance rates improved by nearly 7%. In the second and third years, schools with LifeWise programming saw improvements in discipline, with declines in both in-school and out-of-school suspensions. These results lead to a net increase of instruction hours for schools with LifeWise programming.

Central Ohio Principal Shalonda Likely-Roach witnessed these effects firsthand. 

“LifeWise has made a positive impact on students’ attendance, behavior and social emotional well-being,” said Likely-Roach. “It provides confidence and a sense of belonging for students. They have learned compassion. Our school’s average daily attendance goal is 90% or above each day. Consistently, on the day our students participate in LifeWise, grades 4 and 5 meet and/or surpass our attendance goal. Disciplinary infractions for students who participate in LifeWise have decreased significantly.” 

Established in 2019, LifeWise Academy utilizes little-known released time religious instruction laws to offer Bible education to public school students during school hours. Beginning with just 5 schools in 2019, LifeWise Academy will serve 335 schools in 15 states this school year.

Released time religious instruction is a concept outlined by the 1952 U.S. Supreme Court Decision Zorach v. Clauson, which determined the practice was constitutional and therefore legal in all 50 states. Under released time law, students can be released from public school during the school day to attend religious classes, provided the program is off school property, privately funded and parent-permitted. 

“As I travel across the country and hear from more and more parents and public school educators like Principal Sholonda, I grow even more confident that our program is absolutely invaluable to the students and communities where we serve,” said Joel Penton, Founder of LifeWise Academy. “We know that when students receive religious instruction, they experience spiritual growth and improved mental health. Their behavior and classroom participation improves, and teachers and parents are provided with a critical lifeline to help students become a more positive influence among their peers. Our Bible classes ensure students not only attain knowledge, but also are inspired with wisdom that will shape their character.”

Jennifer Gault, the parent of a student in the Olentangy School District in Ohio, has also told LifeWise staff, “Our daughter’s favorite day of the week is Tuesday because she loves going to LifeWise. Since starting this program, we have found that she thinks a little longer about how she reacts to situations and she proactively helps her friends to consider their choices and potential ramifications before they make them.”

To view the full impact report, visit


LifeWise Academy is a nonprofit that provides Bible education to public school students during school hours under the mandate of released time religious instruction laws. Their curriculum takes students through the entire Bible over five years with a threefold focus: Head, Heart and Hands.

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