Click HERE for more information! Most of the studies comparing single-sex education with coeducation focus on grades and test scores as the parameters of interest. Before we look at those studies, we want you to consider another variable altogether: 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 more than twice as likely to study subjects such as foreign languages, art, music, and drama. Those boys might not get better grades in those subjects than comparable boys get in more gender-typical subjects.
Studies which focus only on grades and test scores won't detect any difference in outcome. For more about benefits beyond grades and test scores, see the advantages for girls page and the advantages for boys page. Returning to grades and test scores: There are three categories of evidence: Major nationwide studies , involving tens or hundreds of thousands of students, in countries such as Australia or the United Kingdom where single-sex public education is widely available; 2.
Because these studies usually involve no change in resources -- the facilities and student-teacher ratios are the same before and after the switch -- the school serves as its own control; 3. Academic studies , in which investigators study coed and single-sex schools while attempting to control for extraneous variables First category of evidence: England , Australia , Jamaica England, July The National Foundation for Educational Research was commissioned to study the effect of school size and school type single-sex vs.
The Foundation studied 2, high schools throughout England, where single-sex public high schools are widely available. They released their report on July 8 Even after controlling for students' academic ability and other background factors, both girls and boys did significantly better in single-sex schools than in coed schools.
In this age group senior high school , the benefits were larger and more consistent across the board for girls than for boys. Specifically, girls at all levels of academic ability did better in single-sex schools than in coed schools; whereas for boys, the beneficial effect of single-sex schools was significant only for boys at the lower end of the ability scale. For higher-achieving boys, there was no statistically significant effect of school type on performance, positive or negative.
Remember, though, that this study only examined students in grades 9 through 12; other evidence [see below] suggests that single-sex education is most effective for boys in kindergarten and elementary school. Girls at single-sex schools were more likely to take non-traditional courses -- courses which run against gender stereotypes -- such as advanced math and physics. The researchers concluded that girls' schools are "helping to counter rather than reinforce the distinctions between 'girls' subjects' such as English and foreign languages and 'boys' subjects' such as physics and computer science" p.
No such effect was seen for boys: Schools of medium size about students per grade seemed to do best. At smaller schools, there was a lack of course offerings especially at the advanced levels. At much larger schools, student performance appeared to suffer. A large Australian study, Their analysis, based on six years of study of over , students, in 53 academic subjects, demonstrated that both boys and girls who were educated in single-sex classrooms scored on average 15 to 22 percentile ranks higher than did boys and girls in coeducational settings.
The report also documented that "boys and girls in single-sex schools were more likely to be better behaved and to find learning more enjoyable and the curriculum more relevant. Curiously, late in all trace of this study was purged from the ACER web site.
However, the ACER's own press release describing the study is still available at this link from archive. Some critics used to argue that single-sex public schools attract children from more affluent families. These critics suggested that the superior performance of students in single-sex schools may be due to the higher socioeconomic class from which such students are purportedly recruited, rather than the single-sex character of the school itself.
However, both the ACER study in Australia just mentioned, and the Foundation study mentioned at the top of the page, both found no evidence to support that hypothesis. In the United States, Cornelius Riordan has shown that girls who attend single-sex Catholic schools typically come from a lower socioeconomic background than girls who attend coed Catholic schools.
Among boys, Professor Riordan found no difference in socioeconomic status. They examined test results from public schools, single-sex and coeducational. OFSTED found that the superior performance of students in single-sex schools cannot be accounted for by socioeconomic factors, but appears instead to be a direct result of single-sex education. They also found that students in single-sex schools have a significantly more positive attitude toward learning.
The Foundation study, which suggests that single-sex education is more beneficial for girls than for boys, is somewhat at variance with an earlier study which suggested that single-sex education was more beneficial for boys than for girls. Educator Graham Able published a study of student performance in 30 coeducational and single-sex schools in England.
Able's study documented superior academic performance of students in single-sex schools, after controlling for socioeconomic class and other variables. This mythology has never been supported by any objective evidence, and any policy derived from it must presumably sacrifice the advantages to one sex in order to promote the cause of the other," he wrote.
This directly contradicts the popular educational myth that boys do better in the classroom if girls are present to set them a good example. One could reasonably conclude from this study that both boys and girls are academically disadvantaged in co-educational schools, but that the disadvantage is greater for the boys.
Alison Gordon, "In a class of their own: A classic study from Jamaica: Marlene Hamilton, studying students in Jamaica, found that students attending single-sex schools outperformed students in coed schools in almost every subject tested.
At the time of the study, public single-sex schools were still widely available in Jamaica, so that there were few if any socioeconomic or academic variables which distinguished students at single-sex schools from students at coed schools. Hamilton noted the same pattern of results which has been found in most studies worldwide: Girls at single-sex schools attain the highest achievement; boys at single-sex schools are next; boys at coed schools are next; and girls at coed schools do worst of all.
Performance levels in science and other subjects for Jamaican adolescents attending single-sex and coeducational high schools, International Science Education, 69 4: Second category of evidence: Same students, same teachers, same facilities.
These studies offer another compelling proof of the superiority of single-sex education. In , Benjamin Wright, principal of the Thurgood Marshall Elementary School in Seattle, Washington, led his school in a transformation from traditional coed classrooms to single-sex classrooms.
Wright was concerned about the high number of discipline referrals he was seeing: He decided to make the switch to single-sex classrooms in hopes of decreasing the discipline problem. The results exceeded his hopes. Discipline referrals dropped from about 30 per day to just one or two per day. The change in the atmosphere happened overnight.
Switching to single-sex classrooms had a dramatic effect, instantly. But improved discipline wasn't the only benefit of the change. But once we made the switch, the boys were able to focus on academics, and so were the girls. The boys, remarkably, shocked the state with what they did on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.
Our boys went from being in the 10 to 30 percent listing to 73 percent. They went from a reading average of about 20 percent to 66 percent. Our boys outperformed the entire state in writing. They went from being in a low percentile of something to 53 percent in writing.
These results aren't confined to elementary schools. An inner-city high school in Montreal made the switch from coed classrooms to single-sex classrooms five years ago. Since making that switch, absenteeism has dropped from 20 percent before the switch to 7 percent now. About 80 percent of students pass their final exams, compared with 65 percent before the switch. And, the rate of students going on to college has nearly doubled. You can read more about this Montreal high school here.
Numerous similar cases have been documented in the United Kingdom. John Fairhurst, principal of the Fairhurst High School in Essex, in southeastern England decided to reinvent his school as two single-sex academies under one roof. The students would take the same courses from the same teachers, but boys and girls would attend separate classes.
Judith O'Reilly, "Mixed school hits new heights with single-sex classes. A similar experiment in Mill Hill, also in England, achieved similar results. In Mill Hill, the county high school was divided up into a girls' wing and a boys' wing in Since that time, the number of pupils scoring high on the GCSE exam has risen from 40 percent to 79 percent. Alan Davison, the principal, comments that "Men and women's brains are different.
It is crucial that we in education recognise that. Nicholas Pyke, "Blunkett plans single-sex classrooms. In June , Mr. Blunkett was promoted to the post of Home Secretary. Researchers at Manchester University in England tested this approach more formally. They assigned students at five public schools either to single-sex or to coed classrooms. Among the girls, 89 percent assigned to single-sex classes passed the test, vs.
Similar findings were reported by researchers at Cambridge University, who examined the effects of single-sex classrooms in schools in four different neighborhoods, including rural, suburban and inner-city schools.
They found that "using single-sex groups was a significant factor in establishing a school culture that would raise educational achievement. Click on the link to read the story which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph March 30, Third category of evidence: On a variety of measures, Riordan found that girls in single-sex schools consistently outperformed girls at coed schools.
In Riordan's studies, the beneficial effect for boys is smaller than it is for girls contrast this finding with Graham Able's report [see above] that the benefits of single-sex schooling are greater for boys than for girls. Riordan believes that the beneficial effects of single-sex schooling are most impressive for children from underprivileged backgrounds.