One elementary school in Mesa, Ariz., has figured out the way to improve academic performance among third and fourth graders while improving student behavior and esteem. It’s just too bad the majority of American public schools would be hesitant to follow suit. Why, you ask? What could possibly prevent public school boards from adopting a proven practice for success in the classroom? In this case, you’d be talking about fear – of the gender police. Mesa’s success lies in the fact that they have voluntary gender-segregated classrooms.
“Their math scores have increased quite a bit — their reading skills,” Montes said, adding they’ve seen a drop in students being disciplined. “Their emotional being has also improved.”
The students seem to enjoy the cootie-free classrooms too. Nine-year-old Jaylynn told ABC15 she is participating more in class and sharing more of her ideas, adding “I was too shy to say [them] in front of the boys.”
The boys feel the same way. We asked fourth-grader Andrew if he missed the girls sitting next to him.
“No, I don’t miss anything about it,” Andrew said. “We don’t have to worry about mainly them screaming and making a lot of noise and stuff.”
According to an article by David Chadwell that appeared in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), single-gender education is “a legal option” for public schools across the country and a proven method for increasing student motivation and academic achievement. Each year the Single-Gender Initiatives program surveys students, teachers, and parents at schools with single-gender classrooms for the South Carolina Department of Education. Sixty percent of students surveyed found the gender segregation to be highly motivational, while 75 percent of teachers and 68 percent of parents saw an increase in “positive traits” defined as “self-confidence, motivation, participation, and desire to complete hard work.”
Researchers attribute the success of sex-segregated classrooms to the simple biological fact that boys and girls learn differently. Boys are more active, girls are more empathetic. Contrary to popular theory, they don’t necessarily learn well from each other. Girls who tend to be more verbally proficient often intimidate boys with lesser-developed communication skills. At the same time, boys may intimidate girls with their natural physical prowess. If you were ever the nerdy girl who hated gym or the sporty guy who couldn’t stand history, you get the picture.
Unfortunately, the realities of biology fly in the face of the girls’ lobby and the transgender brigade, two powerful political forces in today’s education bureaucracy. Schools forced to acknowledge trans students by their chosen, not biological gender stand to run into the same political quagmire that brought down scouting. And, along with contesting the researched theory that male and female brains are wired differently, the American Civil Liberties Union warns school districts against pursuing sex-segregated classrooms lest they get entangled in a legal nightmare thanks to Title IX.
For now, most schools pursuing single-gender classes appear to be navigating around the potential legal bind by making all-male and all-female classes optional and letting the successful test scores speak for themselves.