Single-Gender Classes!

There has been a huge surge of interest in single-sex public education since the United States Department of Education amended Title IX on October 25, 2006 allowing single-sex education in public schools. Historically, it has been difficult to evaluate outcomes given that there is variability in the way in which gender-specific teaching practices are employed and differential selection into coed and single-sex environments.

The following summarizes major findings on outcomes:

Example: At Woodward Avenue Elementary in DeLand, Florida, 85% of boys in single-gender classes passed reading in comparison to 55% in coeducational classes.

  • Although some studies have shown no differences, studies in England, Australia, and Jamaica have shown that students educated in single-sex schools and classrooms academically outperformed students in coed schools.

    • Boys’ performance was boosted in English and foreign languages while girls’ performance improved in math and science.

  • Students in single-sex schools and classrooms demonstrate better behavior, including fewer discipline referrals.

    • Reliance on different brain areas for accurate language performance suggests that boys and girls are processing language information differently.

  • Single-sex schools and classrooms promoted a wider breadth of educational opportunity

    • Girls in all-girls’ schools are more likely to study subjects such as advanced math, computer science, and physics.

    • Boys in all-boys’ schools are twice as likely to study foreign languages, art, music, and drama. More


On opening day of the 1999 school year, the Jefferson Leadership Academies became the first public middle school in the country to offer separate classes for boys and girls. About 1,000 uniformed sixth, seventh, and eighth graders entered single-gender classes…

…. The California Department of Education summarized research on single-gender educational programs in a Fact Sheet: Single Gender Academies Pilot Program. The report indicates that single-gender education

  • Seems to reduce the number of dropouts.

  • Improves the general academic performance of urban males and the math and science achievement of females.

  • Creates a setting that appears to reduce the distracting behavior boys and girls fashion for one another.

  • Motivates students and parents. “The effectiveness of single-gender programs may be due more to students’ and parents’ motivation, commitment, and small class size than to the fact that they enroll only boys or girls.”

What can educators and parents do about the gender gap between boys and girls? “There is plenty we can do. By designing an inviting educational experience for boys, by ‘guy-ifying’ certain aspects of schools, and by ensuring that schools help boys thrive as individuals, we can help boys boost not only their academic performance and self-esteem but also their dreams for the future,” said Pollack.

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