The typical school classroom conjures up images of boys and girls coexisting, raising their hands in equal numbers. However, that’s not always the case.
According to 2010 data from NCES and the U.S. Census Bureau, from prekindergarten to senior year of high school, male students outnumber female students significantly in public school classrooms: 54 percent to 46 percent in pre-K and 51 percent to 49 percent from first grade to 12th grade.
So with the disproportionate stats in the American classroom, is it beneficial to separate the genders from each other? Much debate has centered around this topic for years.
The Case for Single-Gender Classrooms
Jefferson Leadership Academies was in the spotlight in 1999 when it became the first public middle school in the United States to have entirely single-gender classes. Its reason? Research showed that girls did better in math and science in all-girl settings. This decision came just a few years after Failing at Fairness: How Our Schools Cheat Girls was published by two American University professors.
Of course, single-gender education didn’t start in 1999, as it existed in the 18th century before coeducation started to trend in the 19th century. However, it picked up steam in the late ’90s, especially when the Supreme Court made a ruling in the United States v. Virginia case involving male-only military college Virginia Military Institute. The conclusion: Single-sex classrooms were only constitutional if comparable resources were available to both genders. In 2006, the No Child Left Behind Act added a provision giving single-sex classrooms and schools the ability to exist as long as they are voluntary. From 1995 to 2006, the number of single-sex schools in the United States rose from 3 to 241.
There are many reasons why people advocate for single-gender classrooms, including less distraction (especially during teenage years when hormones rage), less “gender intensification” where coed settings reinforce stereotypes, and more instruction tailored to the unique ways boys and girls learn.
Approximately 30% of Catholic high schools in America are single-sex. See why you might consider a Catholic school, even if you’re not Catholic.
The Case Against Single-Gender Classrooms
In 2007, Jefferson Leadership Academies reversed its same-sex curriculum after disappointing test scores and scheduling conflicts came up. Detractors of same-sex classrooms weren’t surprised since one of the biggest drawbacks of single-sex classrooms is the lack of concrete evidence that they boost achievement. As Margaret Talbot wrote in her 2012 New Yorker piece, “The evidence wasn’t very good then [the ’90s] for a gap between the genders’ learning styles so significant that it would mandate separate instruction, and it hasn’t gotten any better.”
Plus, another argument against single-gender schools is that the real world doesn’t afford a society where students can work with or interact with one gender over another. Thus, when it comes time for these students to head into the workforce or even college, they will face an adjustment period.
Related to college, one of the biggest reasons why single-gender classes popped up in the ’90s was to help women do better in the classroom, but recent statistics show that women attend college in larger numbers, outnumbering men by 14 percent.
In fact, girls are less likely than boys to be held back in American schools, too, so some argue that the effort put into helping girls in the classroom may be counterintuitive when the boys are the ones who aren’t doing as well.
Pros and Cons of Single-Sex Education
Essay about Single-sex education vs. Coeducation
962 Words4 Pages
Education has been an important factor of all of our lives for an exceptional amount of time, but unfortunately, America has been falling behind from other nations in their education system compared to other nations (Pahlke 444). Almost all of our public schools in our country are coeducational and only handful of them are single-sex educational schools. Single-sex education should be taken into high consideration for most students to attend because of the benefits they might gain from them. It is important to look at all possible ways to try and better our education system for the benefit of the children and teenagers attending school. The most important years of schooling that provide a solid background for all students would be…show more content…
Another example of students being more focused in single-sex classrooms is when Hoffman, in his article "The Effect of Single-Sex Instruction in a Large, Urban, At-Risk High School", mentions: Girls reported SSI as academically preferable because there were fewer disruptions (Parker & Rennie, 2002), better opportunities to concentrate on work (Mullholland et al., 2004), and diminished feelings of embarrassment for speaking up in class (Jackson & Smith, 2000; McCoy, 1995). Girls also have claimed that they were disadvantaged in CE classrooms (Jackson & Smith) and that SSI classes offered more support, less hassle, and less ridicule and teasing from peers (Parker & Rennie).(Hoffman 16)
It is clearly noted that the students were in fact more focused in the classrooms without the opposite sex being present which substantially will be a major benefit for our country in helping it increase our academic level back to the top or to be even with the countries that our currently ahead of us in that aspect. Not only are the students more focused in the classrooms with single-sex classrooms, but they also feel more comfortable with each other and aren't very concerned with the way they look. They don't need to be worrying about impressing anyone because everyone there is of the same gender so it would be a waste of their time if they tried to impress one another. It is common for them to be able to go