Single Sex Schools vs. Co-Ed Schools

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

In this lesson, we will examine both sides of the debate on whether same-sex schools and classes or co-educational schools and classes are more beneficial for students.

Innovative Programs

Did you go to a same sex school or a co-ed school? Did you like it or did you wish you could have been at the other kind? Where will you send you kids?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits gender discrimination in public schools. Howeber, in 2006, the U.S. Department of Education altered regulations relating to Title IX funding, allowing school districts to fund single-sex public education programs.

Since that time, advocates on both sides of the issue have come forward with reasons and research to advance their position. Let's examine their findings.

Same-Sex Schools Advocates

The National Association for Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE) is the organization that advocates for same sex schools. Their position comes from evidence that there are differences in brain development between girls and boys.

For example, girls develop visual processing skills and language processing skills earlier than boys. Proponents of single sex schools believe that it is not possible to meet the developmental needs of boys and girls in the same classroom because of these differences.

Others do not believe that it is the developmental differences as much as social factors that influence the effectiveness of same-sex classrooms. For examples, despite their equal ability, girls may feel intimidated by boys in coed classrooms. Further, students do not feel constrained by gender roles when the other sex is not present.

Co-Ed Schools Advocates

The American Council for CoEducational Schooling (ACCES) opposes the notion of same-sex classrooms. Although ACCES acknowledges some gender differences, they disagree that those differences affect student performance.

Opponents of same sex schools are concerned that separating students by gender leads to stereotyping, which ultimately affects relationships as students mature.

Further, separate does not mean equal as it is likely that resources for female-only schools and classrooms do not compare to those offered to male-only educational environments. Rather than segregating students, ACCES promotes celebrating diversity.

What Does the Research Say?

Although same-sex school proponents claim better education, higher test scores, and other educational benefits, research doesn't necessarily back these claims. Results show a mixture of outcomes.

Where it appears that same-sex schools or classes are beneficial, there are other factors, such as the selection process, curriculum differences, and/or extracurricular offerings that may have affected the outcome.

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