I am writing because I am concerned about gender stereotypes hindering the learning of our middle school students. We should make the local middle schools same-sex, in order to raise test scores and allow our students to feel free to learn any subject they want. There is a lot of evidence in which children benefit from same-sex schools in the ‘Raising Boys’ Achievement Project’ (RBA) which was a four-year project (2000-2004) which focused on issues associated with the apparent differential academic achievement of boys and girls at key stage 2 and key stage 4 in schools in England.
Academically the students do better, because the teachers are taught how to teach both sexes according to the way they learn best. This causes the students to quickly feel comfortable exploring non- traditional subjects. The focus of research in one triad, in the report was to contribute to the debate about the potential of single-sex classes for boys’ and girls’ learning, and to consider under what circumstances, if any, such classes might offer better opportunities for boys and girls. In so doing, the researchers attempted to identify the essence of single-sex teaching in a particularly successful co-educational omprehensive school serving a socially diverse white population in southern England, and to support the transfer of this approach to two schools serving similar socio-economic contexts in Eastern England. In the Originator school, single-sex teaching was one of a number of organizational strategies which aimed to improve the achievement levels of boys and girls within the context of establishing an achievement culture within the school, with high aspirations for and expectations of all students. Initially tightly targeted at boys and girls who were perceived as being in danger of under-achieving in English at
GCSE, single-sex teaching was subsequently expanded and introduced with middle ability sets in mathematics, Science and Modern Languages. Both Partner schools had some prior experience of involvement with single-sex teaching in key stage 4, but the philosophy underpinning single-sex teaching, and the associated teaching strategies were less developed than in the Originator school. The rationale behind the introduction of single-sex teaching also differed in the two Partner schools; in school B, it focused on improving the achievement of boys in English, whereas in school C, the trategy was initially linked directly to the perceived under-achievement of middle set girls in Mathematics. In the Originator school, single-sex teaching has been one of the factors which has helped to transform achievement. The performance levels of both girls and boys, year-on-year, have generally followed an upward trajectory over the years analyzed. In school B, of the students taught in single-sex classes, all girls in school B passed both English Language and English Literature in 2003, compared with 81% of boys for English Language and 56% in English Literature.
Interestingly, however, the boys’ average points score for English (4. 9) was higher than that for other subjects (4. 5). In school C, although both boys and girls in single-sex classes performed better in mathematics than might have been predicted from an analysis of their cognitive ability scores, with typically over 50% of both boys and girls exceeding predictions in any year, this pattern was also apparent from the results of boys and girls, drawn from a similar population in the other half of the year group, and taught in mixed classes for mathematics.
Any analysis based simply on performance data must be tentative, therefore, because of sample size and the difficulty of isolating the impact of being taught in single-sex classes from other factors, but there is some limited evidence here – from both the Originator school and one of the Partners – of positive impacts of single-sex classes on achievement levels. Evidence that same-sex schools help children benefit emotionally is displayed in interviews the researchers did on some of the students. Girls and boys wrote of more informal relationships in single-sex lassrooms, with teachers tolerating a more relaxed and friendly attitude, being less stressed because there was less off-task behavior and more willing to talk about things they knew would interest classes. Girls, in particular, felt that they learned better because the teachers could teach more, with less need to be continually disciplining disruptive boys; boys felt that they received more teaching and more attention from their teachers because girls were not there to dominate the questioning. Boys in particular, claimed hat single-sex classes in English allowed them more freedom to work harder without worrying about stereotypical expectations and their own image, particularly that they were not supposed to enjoy English. They spoke of being able to talk about feelings and express opinions about books and poetry, to target coursework without feeling intimidated by girls, and to study and enjoy the romantic texts. Equally, girls spoke of it being ‘far less embarrassing when doing talks if the blokes aren’t there to rubbish you’, of being able to say what you really feel about plays and emotional stuff and things like that’ and of there being ‘no pressure to be loud and funny in front of the guys’. Boys, too, acknowledged ‘feeling more confident, especially when giving presentations and asking questions’, of ‘not being nervous and messing up so much when talking about the work’ and of being ‘not afraid to talk about feelings in poetry and plays’. In order to find the social benefits an attitudinal survey was completed by students in each school.
Three significant aspects of students’ attitudes (their engagement with school, their sense of self as student and their academic self-concept) were identified and assessed . In each case, there is a statistically significant upward trend in the scores recorded. This analysis suggests that the children became more engaged with their schooling, saw themselves more as students and developed more confidence as learners during the course of the year. In conclusion I ask that you please consider bringing same-sex schools to our community.
If you ask the teachers that teach in this format, they strongly support it. Tim Kraus, president of the Cincinnati Federation of Teachers says, “Regardless of possible political or ideological opposition, single- gender classes have the strong support of teachers who have tried it. They are continuing to do it because they think it works. ” ( Fischer) RESOURCES: Fisher, Ben Cincinnati Inquirer, enquirer. com, September 11, 2007 Warrington, Mike Younger and Molly. Raising Boys’ Achievement. Research. colgate: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. , 2005.