The following video gives an inside look at a Woodward Avenue Elementary in Florida. This talks about the changes on November 24th, 2006 that will allow single-sex classes. Here the students are given the opportunity to learn subjects separately. The Principal is interviewed about her opinions on this and says we’ve grown past students being taught different subject matter in single-sex classes. She says they are more involved and intensive in single-sex classes. The students also give their opinion about the separation. Some girls say they will be less embarrassed. This is an insightful look at the student’s perspective. I just wish there had been a follow up video of the results.
In response to the supposed “boys’ crisis” that I have read about in several of my case studies, I found this article titled When Girls Do Better in School, So Do Boys. This article points out that according to the American Association of University Women (a nonprofit advocacy group that has sought gender equity and education for women since its founding in 1881), ““The past few decades have seen remarkable gains for girls and boys in education, and no evidence indicates a crisis for boys in particular. If a crisis exists, it is a crisis for African American and Hispanic students and students from lower-income families — both girls and boys.” This is an interesting point I have thought of before. Should single-sex education really be a major focus when children in poor conditions regardless of gender have their own “gap?”
Are Boys in Crisis? Will Single-Sex Classrooms Help?
Educators challenged by gender gap in achievement
Stotsky, Sandra. What Boys are Reading. Gender Differences Special Edition Contributor. 2009. Web. 30 May 2010.
This article came to my attention after reading the case study titled Single-Sex Classes in Two Arkansas Elementary Schools: 2008-2009. As indicated by the title, this article further looks into “what boys are reading” and the gender gap in reading proficiency. There are four points listed about the reading skills in American adults that are striking:
- Even more astonishing, the decline in literacy skills among college graduates and those with graduate study or degrees rated “proficient” was confined to males.
- The percentage of highly educated males rated “proficient” in all three kinds of literacy assessed (prose reading, document reading, and quantitative reasoning, as defined by NCES) declined.
- Results on the 2005 grade 12 test of reading achievement, released in February 2007, showed over one grade level difference between girls and boys.
- Both male and female students’ scores were lower in 2005 in comparison to 1992, when these main tests began, with female students now outscoring male students by 13 points.
While this article does not mention single-sex education, it does bring up the “boys’ crisis” that has been mentioned previously in other articles. Instead some of the blame is pointed towards the English curriculum as well as the student’s own choice in reading. Boys and girls both gravitate towards young adult fantasies that have “unusual teen-agers who use magic and mischief to solve their problems,” and they do not have high readability levels. Currently the books assigned by teachers have a “social justice” theme that normally involves politics. The article claims that this may be the cause of some of the decrease in reading ability. According to the list of the Top 20 Titles in 2007 for Boys and Girls in Grades 9-12, there are not many classics present but for the boys every single Harry Potter book is listed. What does this mean for our students? And what does it mean for the supposed “boy’ crisis?” According to the article, “The problem is . . . their tastes and reading skills have no been developed for mature fiction, biographies, and historical nonfiction in self-selected reading.”
This article is good at pointing out the problems apparent in students’ ability to read, especially boys. But it does not offer many good solutions. For my paper I want to tie this into the single-sex education solution. For me it is apparent that if boy’s and girl’s reading selections are so different that their reading ability would be better cultivated if they were worked on individually.
Cable, Kelly and Terry Spradlin. Single-Sex Education in the 21st Century. Indiana University, 2008.
Both sides of the single-sex education question are examined equally in this article. In the beginning there is a more recent history account of the progression of single-sex education in public schooling today. An interesting fact that I did not know until reading this article is since regulations added in 2006, any course in a co-educational school could technically be separated by gender if justified reasoning is given. According to the article, “as long as there is a comparable coeducational course within the school or withing a geographically accessible location, and as long as they conduct a review after two years.” There is much convincing research given by the NASSPE (Nation Associated for Single Sex Public Education) for the use of single-sex education. Much of it comes from the biological differences in gender and the way we learn. Most of this has been addressed in other articles, what I found most interested was the argument against it.
A point I had not considered before reading this article were the other issues that were not being addressed that could be considered even larger gaps in education than gender.This article raised many questions for me. What about racial gaps, we wouldn’t think to separate students based on their racial background would we? In some ways the argument makes single-sex education feel much like segregation and that we are headed back to a time of other inequalities as well. I agree with the later part of the article that states that we would better benefit our students if we could work on closing the racial gap instead of the gender gap. What about students who do not fit the gender stereotype? If there is a boy who would rather read than play football, would separating him in such a way inhibit his abilities?
Before reading this article I had thought I knew where I stood on the single-sex education issue, but now I do not know. The conclusion to this article is that there needs to be more research done from both sides before we can decide and I completely agree. There are many issues that need to be looked at further.
U.S. Department of Education. Single-Sex Verus Coeducational Schooling: A Systematic Review. Washington, D.C., 2005.
This study mostly focuses on elementary and secondary education. This very lengthy article looks at whether single-sex education is more effective than co-education by looking at qualitative and quantitative data. It asks important questions such as, “Are single-sex schools more or less effective than coeducational schools in terms of addressing issues of procedural (e.g., classroom treatment) and outcome measures of gender inequity?,” or “Are single-sex schools more or less effective than coeducational schools in terms of perceptual measures of the school climate or culture that may have an impact on performance?” The study explains that there is some evidence to support that single-sex education can be helpful when it comes to aspirations and academic achievement and that most importantly if it is not effective in some areas then it is also not harmful.
This study looks further in-depth than any I’ve yet read. It compares co-educational schooling to singe-sex by look at things such as self-concept, self-esteem, delinquency, sex-role stereotyping, eating disorders, choices of college majors and much more. What I found most interesting about these individual studies was sex-role stereotyping. It was found that girls who went to single-sex schools had less sex-role stereotyping when it came to work. In looking at these results, the article points me to another study I should look at.
According to table 26, “Lee and Bryk (1986) in a study using the High School and Beyond data, found girls in SS high schools had significantly less sex role stereotyping in their senior year . . . when compared with girls in CE schools, although there was a no difference for sophomores. All effects were calculated including adjustments for personal and family backgrounds, religious characteristics, academic background and orientation, school social context, and academic curricular track. For boys in SS high schools, there were no significant differences in students’ views of stereotypical adult sex roles for sophomores, seniors and gain scores when compared to boys in CE schools.”
Denny, George, Sandra Stotsky, and Nick Tschepikow. Single-Sex Classes in Two Arkansas Elementary Schools: 2008-2009. University of Arkansas, 2009.
Because most studies for single sex schooling are done on older students and tend to focus more on females as well, I chose to look at a side of the debate that isn’t as often looked at. This article compares two single-sex classes in different public elementary schools (one class is grade five and the other is grade six) to coeducational classes in reading achievement based on annual state assessments. Throughout reading and studying this subject, I often wondered to myself if separating students into single-sex classrooms was an environment that would help them learn or if it was detrimental to their learning ability. This is important for future educators to know because we should be trying to help our students’ learning ability. Thankfully, overall the study found that, “there does not seem to be an academic downside in experimenting with single-sex classes so far as is suggested by test results in these two elementary schools,” (2). Which is why I am further convinced that this is an area of study our society should be closely monitoring and researching.
Another important question that arose that this case study answered for me was why in at the beginning of the 21st century was there a largely increased interest in single-sex education in public schooling? The study explains,
There seem to be two major sources of the educational interest in separating boys and girls as they approach adolescence: concerns about academic achievement and concerns about the disruptive effects of adolescent hormones on academic achievement . . . they also reflect in part a growing awareness of an achievement gap that has received little attention from educators or policy makers so far (4).
This echos the readings we have done in class that illustrates our competition with foreign schooling. Many of the studies found about single-sex education encompass schools from overseas because it is generally more common there. Also our focus on catching up in mathematics and sciences is shown through an increased pressure put on females to compete in these fields. But what about male students’ performance in reading and writing?
This article from msnbc from 2006 discusses a school in Atlanta that is experimenting with single-sex classrooms. It beings by explaining in a sixth-grade class, the boys are making robots and down the hall the girls are working quietly and independently on the exact same project. An important factor this article brings up is the expected change in the coming years as federal regulations change in regards to single-sex public schools. While there are many different opinions on this subject, individuals who support single-sex schooling argue that girls and boys learn differently from one another and that separating them can help them learn better. According to the article 223 public schools in the country already have single-sex classrooms. Leonard Sax, director of the Nation Association for Single Sex Public Education thinks that, “thousands more schools will join the movement once the Education Department finalizes new Title IX regulations.”
Another important and interesting point this article has is in the form of a statistic. In Woodward Elementary school, there are co-ed and single-sex classrooms and in the co-ed 57% of the girls and 37% of the boys passed a state writing test while 75% of the girls and 86% of the boys passed in the single-sex classroom.Not everyone agrees with single-sex schooling though. According to a statement from the American Association of University Women, single-sex classrooms only distract from the real problem and “throw out the most basic legal standards prohibiting sex discrimination in education.”
To me a scary part of this article is that current federal rules regulate single-sex schooling by the guidelines that they must be comparable, but under “proposed changes” this would disappear. I am interested to know what changes have happened since this article was written.
Single-Sex Classrooms Are Succeeding
The title gives away the whole premise of this article, to prove that single-sex classrooms are indeed succeeding. The article gives a list of many different schools across the country from kindergarten all the way to high school that have gotten substantial results from having single-sex classrooms. Much of the results discussed looked at how boys were able to focus more on reading skills and catch up in the “gender gap” while girls were able to focus more on technology and math. Some schools saw results not only in academics but also in relationships between teachers and their students. One high school reported that the mentor relationship between teacher and student was enhanced.
While this article gave many examples of positive results in schools, it was rather opinionated and gave very little quantifiable information. But it was useful in the sense that it gave many schools I could look into further and perhaps find a case to base the rest of my research on.
The article by Nelly P. Stromquist titled Gender Inequality in Education: accounting for Women’s Subordination addresses many theories already in existance about the cause of gender inequality in education. To begin with the article discusses many classical theories by individuals such as: Bourdieus, Bernstein, Durkeim & Parsons. Many of these theories explain the differences in schooling purely on the student’s own ability to learn the material but, as the author explains throughout the article, these ideals are gender-blind. She explains, “Classical theories are unable to explain gender differences in as much as they ignore them and concentrate exclusively on social class differences.” These are not the only types of theories the author disproves though. Many types of feminist theories, including that of radical thinkers, don’t treat the underlying cause of discrimination.
So who does the author point the finger at? The state, “the state . . . faces definite limits in providing an education that is truly liberating for women.” The author proceeds to say that the hopeful equalization for education lies in women’s groups outside of the formal education area. It is these groups that will help place pressure on the State to reform.