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What are the academic outcomes of students who attend single-sex 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:

Academic outcomes of boys at Woodward Avenue Elementary in DeLand, Florida

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.

Source: “Single-Sex vs. Coed: The Evidence”; The National Foundation for Educational Research (2002); Australian Council for Educational Research (2000); British Office for Standards in Education (1998); MSNBC Report.