Do Same Sex Schools and Classes Help or Hurt Students?

Updated on March 9, 2018
Stacie L profile image

Stacie L has been an educator for many years and likes to share her experiences and advice.

Same-Sex Education

The idea of public same-sex or single-sex schools is discussed briefly with my findings in this article. I have given some background information, current programs and the issues of this plan. As a way to improve the educational achievement levels of public schools students, some state-education groups have determined that providing an education to students, based on gender, may be beneficial. There are some distinct advantages and disadvantages for the students.

No Child Left Behind Act

In 2001, President Bush signed in law, the No Child Left Behind Act to help school systems create new and innovative programs, paving the way to try the single-sex

school model.

In 2006, the US Department of Education amended its Title IX regulations to allow single-sex opportunities as long as enrollment is voluntary and there is a substantially equal school for students of the other gender.

There are a number of schools systems that have tried this or are in the process of converting their schools into single-gender schools. Some districts are trying single-sex classrooms first, due to enrollment, financial or political pressures.

The U.S. Department of Education contracted with RMC Research Corporation to conduct a descriptive study of existing single-sex public schools that would address the following evaluation questions:

  1. What is currently known about the effects of single-sex schooling on student achievement and other outcomes?
  2. What is known about the causes of those outcomes?
  3. What are the characteristics of public single-sex schooling? What are the contextual, instructional, and behavioral practices unique to single-sex schools?
  4. What perceived benefits or disadvantages are associated with single-sex schooling?
  5. What studies, including research questions and methodology, would be most appropriate to advance the knowledge base in this field?

Key findings:

I have summarized these points and findings.

  • The results of the systematic review are mixed, though the findings suggest some support for the premise that single-sex schooling can be helpful.
  • The site visit observers in the eight single-sex school sites found little evidence of substantive modifications to curricula to address the specific needs of either boys or girls, although some teachers who were interviewed provided examples of using support materials specific to the interests of girls.
  • In the eight elementary and middle schools visited, site visitors observed more positive academic and behavioral interactions between teachers and students in the single-sex schools than in the comparison coed schools.
  • Both principals and teachers believed that the main benefits of single-sex schooling are decreasing distractions to learning, and improving student achievement.
  • Teachers cited greater benefits of single-sex schooling for girls than for boys in 5 of the 10 benefit categories.
  • In separate focus groups, both parents and students cited essentially the same benefits as the teachers and implied that they chose the single-sex school for these reasons.
  • Teachers in single-sex high schools rated problems with student behavior as less serious than teachers in coed schools, but the opposite was true in middle schools.
  • In the 10 case study schools the site visitors observed more positive student interactions for the single-sex schools than for the coed comparison schools.
  • The research team suggests that future research use prior empirical work (both qualitative and quantitative) to identify variables that should be measured and potentially used as statistical controls.

To read all the findings in fuller detail, go to:*

www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/other/single-sex/index.html

Video of Single-Sex Classrooms in Action

a traditional view of all girl classes
a traditional view of all girl classes | Source

Background

American public education differs from that of many other nations in that it is primarily the responsibility of the states and individual school districts. The national system of formal education in the United States developed in the 19th century. Jefferson was the first American leader to suggest creating a public school system. His ideas formed the basis of education systems developed in the 19th century.

In spite of the belief that public education should be available to every child irrespective of race, gender or economic status, this has not happened in reality. Discrimination in schools on the basis of race and gender has always persisted. Girls were not admitted in schools until many years after the establishment of schools, and even then, they were not taught the same subjects as boys. Since the 1950s, public policy toward education has addressed discrimination issues in education more than educational issues. The federal government has especially been concerned with issues of equality in school districts.

Female Equality

The emergence of the women's rights movement during the 1960s was a boost against sexual discrimination. Title IX of the 1972 federal Education Amendments prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that received federal aid. Educators are of the opinion that even after all these measures; women do not get equal pay in jobs. Discrimination in professional jobs still exists.

Issues Facing Today’s Public Schools

It is a difficult task for school districts to implement an equal education to all students, regardless of gender makeup. This fact is a disadvantage for the students.

Small school districts do not have enough students to implement single sex schools, but they can and have tried single-sex classrooms.

It’s very tricky. We don’t want to go backwards and only have male students in some subjects and all female students in another subject. Public funds supposed to provide a free and equal educational opportunity for all.

In the past 12 years, US cities and towns have established no fewer than 80 public single-sex schools. According to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, single-sex classes within coed schools have jumped from three in 1995 to more than 300 now.

* Since the economic meltdown, there are fewer schools able to implement a single sex school or classroom, which means more students are at a disadvantage.

Some State Efforts:

  • Districts nationwide have been scrambling to implement single-sex education, since federal officials finalized rules to ease the process in 2006. But officials in Greene County, east of metro Atlanta along I-20, say they believe they are the first in the country to convert the entire district to a single-gender model.
  • Students in all of Georgia’s Greene County's regular public schools will be separated by gender starting next fall, a move educators hope will improve rock-bottom test scores and reduce teen pregnancy and discipline rates in the small, rural system.
  • Leonard Sax, head of the National Association for Single Sex Public Education, said he knows of no other public school district that has switched entirely to single-gender classrooms. Georgia is banking on the success of this move.
  • Foley Intermediate School began offering separate classes for boys and girls a few years ago, after the school’s principal, Lee Mansell, read a book by Michael Gurian called “Boys and Girls Learn Differently.

  • Boston’s high dropout rate and its racial, gender, and ethnic achievement gaps are strong arguments for different education approaches that have shown promise elsewhere. That is why it was encouraging when Superintendent of Schools Carol Johnson proposed single-sex schools for boys and girls in her reorganization plan. In other districts where Johnson has worked, she has seen their appeal to both students and parents.
  • For the second time, Maryland’s Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Linda D. Burgee has rejected a proposal for an all-girls charter school.
  • The current proposal is based on three main points – single-sex education for girls, foreign languages and a servant-leader educational model. Students will be able to pick a language in eighth grade and continue working on it throughout high school. Math and science classes will be mandatory for 11th- and 12th- graders.
  • More than 1,700 students responded to a recent survey by the South Carolina Department of Education. Overall, three out of four student-respondents in grades 2 through 9 – students enrolled at 12 elementary schools, 18 middle schools and one high school – agreed that the single-gender approach was helping them in school.
  • “More and more South Carolina parents are choosing this option whenever and wherever it’s made available,” said State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. “This new survey shows that kids see value, too. They believe this approach helps them perform at a higher level.”

Constitutional Issues

Given the American Civil Liberty Union‘s (ACLU) mission and history, it's not surprising that the organization is preparing for battle over what it sees as a constitutional question.

Evidently, the ACLU and its Alabama affiliate have decided they know what's best for the children, not the education professionals in the local schools.

Teachers and administrators at Hankins Middle School believe that putting boys and girls in separate classes could have academic and social benefits. They work with the students and don’t want the ACLU butting into their business.

Richard D. Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation disagrees with any segregating of students by gender:

Policies that are going to purposely segregate students by race or gender or income or religion is antithetical to what American public education is supposed to be about, which is to bring children of different backgrounds together.

Some educators agree

Nationwide, a growing movement of educators thinks that separating boys from girls will stimulate greater academic success and eliminate some social insecurity. Many teachers are willing to try the single sex or single gender schools or classrooms model. They see it as a positive way to improve achievement level and improve the quality of education for girls.

At least 442 public schools in the United States offer single-sex classrooms, according to the National Association for Single Sex Public Education. At least 14 of those are in Florida.

For more information on what each state is doing in single sex education, refer to; www.ed.gov

Conclusion

Most parents and teachers can see the advantages to single sex classes,especially for girl in math and science.

Some districts are struggling with this today due to budget constraints. Not everyone will get what they want. Public schools are under a tremendous strain and money is a big issue standing in the way of single sex classes and schools. This money constraint creates a great disadvantage for students.

It would appear that the educational institutions in this country are going backwards, as far as treating girls and boys differently. I think it may work, as long, as both genders get the same level of education. We must be very careful not to violate Constitutional Rights of either sex , when we separate them. It’s a touchy subject that I’m sure will come under fire with groups like the ACLU.

Since I have taught in public schools and charter schools, with all ages and most subjects, I have a definite opinion. I do think that single-sex classrooms are beneficial and if, possible, single-sex schools. Larger, urban schools may have the resources to implement this plan, while smaller, rural school districts can certainly try the single-sex classes.

Girls do feel a lot of pressure when they are competing with boys, in the same classroom. Research has shown that, when given the chance and right conditions, girls can and do exceed in once dominated male subjects.

I think it’s worth a try. It may help ease parents’ fears and frustrations with the Public school system format.

Many parents have given up any hope that their child can succeed when it comes to public education. Private education, homeschooling and charter schools are seen as the only options left.. Public education needs some big improvements fast, if it is to survive and thrive.

Update on No Child Left Behind

Since writing this, there have been many new issues concerning education and the choices school districts make.

In 2010 President Obama tried to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act or ESEA, highlighting accountability measuring the effectiveness of principals and teachers. This was intended to give teachers the necessary support to improve student achievement.

Congress did not reauthorize ESEA so the White House authorized more flexibility to states to implement their own programs to improve grades and achievement.

**Read more about ESEA flexibility (being updated by current white house staff) to gain a better understanding of the challenges and tasks faced by states, parents, teachers, and school administration to create a workable plan to meet Federal guidelines.

The economy has played a major role in developing new single sex or gender schools or classrooms and with shrinking tax dollars, administrators have had to make unpopular decisions.

I still think the female-only math and science classes as well as, male-only English, reading and gym classes are doable and beneficial.

The No Child Left Behind law isn't always practical and poses many challenges for teachers, parents and students. With budget shortfalls, creativeness is essential.

Would you want your child to go to a single -sex public school?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2008 Stacie L

    Comments

    Submit a Comment

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      3 years ago

      peachpurple:

      I'm sorry to read that your girls only school had a peeping Tom teacher.

      Otherwise your experiences sound positive.Did anyone report him?

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      3 years ago

      ladyguitarpicker: Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comments on single sex schools Hub. It is nothing new,but it is not common in today's public schools. Girls thrive when boys aren't in the same school or classroom.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      my school was an all girls school except for a male teacher was a peeping tom . Being in the same sex school, there is a few advantages, you don't have peeing tom problems except the male teacher, no dating stuff and easier to control in studies

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      The same sex school is nothing new, we had them in the 1960s when I went to middle school. I think it was a good thing in that we were able to work hard and concentrate more on the school work not the boys. Stella

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      6 years ago

      Girls appear to learn more and participate in the math and science classes at the higher grades.

      Thanks for reading and leaving your comment.

    • profile image

      muktachauhan 

      6 years ago

      i think single sex school let the children grow in their medium.especially girls with notdone nature come up highly successful since they need nt face any suppreesion from any side.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      7 years ago

      @Sufidreamer:thanks for reading and commenting.

      I think I would have learned more especially in math and science if I had attended am all girl class at least...

    • Sufidreamer profile image

      Sufidreamer 

      7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

      A very thorough Hub, Stacie - the time that you put into your research shows. I went to a single sex school and I hated it - I am not sure if it improved my academic performance or not, but it did nothing for my social skills.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      8 years ago

      greensnob; yes, you are right;there are many variables and conditions that need to be taken into consideration. Not all children thrive in the same teaching environment or with the same teacher.

      Thank you for your comments.=)

    • greensnob profile image

      greensnob 

      8 years ago

      As a teacher, I have seen all the varieties of possibilities implemented to achieve higher performance scores for school sites. I have seen one school separate the boys at the fifth grade level with a specific in-reach program brought to them only. They did so well at this age separated, however, the girls did not receive the same quality educational in-reach program and were in worse condition, than if they had stayed with a co-ed class. I feel we are continuously experimenting with our children and with the educational system. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we do not. The students are resiliant and adapt quickly to our 'reaching for the stars' methodology. The teachers become more impervious with every new program they have to adapt to. Teaching is dynamic and changing methods can be an asset to the students, but again, it should be placed with the teacher as to how to manage their professionalism in the ever changing atmosphere of the classroom.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      8 years ago

      GeneriqueMedia ; thanks for participating...I seriously doubt single sex schools will turn kids gay...:/

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      8 years ago

      Lgali and Londongirl; thank you for your comments....I think single sex classrooms is a good start.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      8 years ago

      Tomdhum,No child left behind law is a problem of budgeting right now. we have taught to the tests in recent years instead of teaching the child where they are currently functioning...

    • tomdhum profile image

      tomdhum 

      9 years ago from memphis tn

      great great thoughts of same sex schools. my opinion is out but I will think about it. Like to have your comments of No Child Left Behind at hub teachers speak out. thanks and LOL

    • GeneriqueMedia profile image

      GeneriqueMedia 

      9 years ago from Earth

      Very well done.

      But...if my child goes to a single sex school, he might become one of them tharr gays. ;)

      G|M

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 

      9 years ago from London

      I went to single-sex schools in London from 4 to 18, and I think they are a good thing.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 

      9 years ago

      another good hub

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment . I don't know if there is a right or wrong way; i just know it's totally dependant of each school system.This gives school systems animportant option and they do have to be careful not to show any bias. it's a delicate balance.

      :/

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Like everything else, there are pros and cons of it all. I'm not against it and I think it should be an option. What we have to be careful is crossing any lines and keeping it all fair. That is where a lot of good things get corrupted over time when we don't monitor them and then end up getting rid of a good thing because someoen corrupted it.

      Great piece.

    • profile image

      Writer Rider 

      9 years ago

      If it works, however being implemented in the public system, I'm wondering if it would open the pandoras box of segregation. Maybe it wouldn't, but that's just one thought.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      That's an interesting thought Writer rider.So you would recommend it?

      thanks for your input.;)

    • profile image

      Writer Rider 

      9 years ago

      I benefitted from it. When women are educated without the male influence they're not supressed they so usually strive for the coveted positions normally held by men after graduate.

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      thank you for your input. Opinions seem to be evenly divided now.

      ;=)

    • compu-smart profile image

      Compu-Smart 

      9 years ago from London UK

      Yes, Same sex schools always has its pros when it comes to acquiring as best an education as you can get!

      Trying to teach kids in a mixed schools always has unnecessary distractions especially if the opposite sex is around!

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      thank you stanleyreese for your comments. Did you like going to single sex schools?

    • Stacie L profile imageAUTHOR

      Stacie L 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for reading my article Ivanna. I think it's a good conversation starter. Public education needs help and this is one option.;)

    • stanleyreese profile image

      stanleyreese 

      9 years ago from Alabama

      I grew up in LaGrange, Georgia. The city school system had the girls and boys divided during their middle school years. I went to the county schools. I can't say that my friends from the city system had any advantages or disadvantages later in life.

    • profile image

      ivanna 

      9 years ago

      if we were to have same sex schools it would be terrible

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