2005 NASSPE Conference

Our 2005 conference was a tremendous success. To begin with, we had an extraordinary diversity of speakers and attendees: 272 educators from Alaska to Florida, from Massachusetts to southern California, as well as from Spain, Iceland, Australia, Canada, and Mexico.

Our conference theme was best practices for single-sex education. The remainder of this page is archived pretty much just as it was on the opening day of the conference.

Why do some schools enjoy great success after they adopt the single-sex format, while other schools fail? It isn't enough just to put the girls in one room and the boys in another. Teachers also need to understand gender-specific best practices for teaching in the single-sex classroom.

Who should attend?

Educators and administrators who work at schools which currently offer single-sex educational options -- or who are considering offering such options.

Where and when will it take place?

The conference will take place at the Marriott Cincinnati at RiverCenter, located on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, facing downtown Cincinnati. The conference will take place over the Columbus Day weekend, October 8 - 10, 2005.

Who will be speaking? What will they be talking about?

Click here to see our list of speakers and topics (with links to further information where available).

What's the overall agenda for the conference? Exactly when does it start and end? Do we get free meals?

A buffet breakfast and lunch Saturday and Sunday are included in your registration fee. Click here to see the complete agenda for the conference.

How much does it cost? How do I register?


Ready to Register?

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Click here for detailed information about registration.

Where should I stay?

We recommend that all attendees stay at the Marriott Cincinnati at RiverCenter, located on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River, facing downtown Cincinnati. All guests will receive complimentary high-speed Internet access (bring your laptop).
Registration information

The registration fee is $335.00 per person. For groups of 3 or more, the registration fee is $310.00 per person.

We will refund 50% of the registration fee if your refund request is received before September 7; between September 7 and October 5, just 25%; after October 5, no refunds will be provided.

If you would like to register using a credit card, please click here. If you would like to fax your credit card information to us, you may print out the registration form at this link and fax it to 301 972 8006.

If you're not using a credit card, you may mail check or money order or purchase order to NASSPE, 19710 Fisher Avenue, Suite J, Poolesville, Maryland, 20837. (Be sure to include "Suite J" in the address.)
Purchase orders will be accepted only from accredited schools, colleges, and universities.
If you have questions about methods of payment, please call us at 301 972 7600 during our business hours (9 AM to 4 PM Monday through Friday), and ask to speak with Karina, Penny, or Tanya.
Speakers and topics

Here's a listing of some of the more than 30 speakers you'll have the opportunity to hear at our conference:

Session Descriptions

  • "We have crossed the bay; the ocean lies ahead"
    The future of single-sex public education
  • Benjamin Wright, Victory Schools
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    America's school reform movement has resembled a slot machine: Pull the handle and see what's popular today. Single-sex education is not a panacea. But there can no longer be any doubt that single-sex education has an important role to play in American public education.
    The next ten years are critical for the future of single-sex public education. If this format is to take hold as a mainstay of American public education, parents and teachers must be educated regarding best practices for single-sex education. If we fail, if single-sex education does not catch on in public schools, then boys in particular -- especially African-American and Latino boys from low-income neighborhoods -- will be the losers.

  • Best practices for single-sex education:
    Are we there yet?

    Leonard Sax, NASSPE
    Poolesville, Maryland
    In recent years, considerable research has demonstrated fundamental and hardwired gender differences in how girls and boys learn. In some cases, these differences require educators to think about parameters which previously have not been recognized as pedagogically significant. For example: room temperature. We will review evidence that young boys learn best in a room where the temperature is about 69 degrees, while young girls learn best in a room where the temperature is about 75 degrees. If you put children in a room where the temperature is 75 degrees, the girls will be alert and the boys' eyes will glaze over. The boys will be half-asleep.
    Merely putting girls in one room (or building) and putting the boys in another room is no guarantee of success. You have to know how to set the thermostat. Educators interested in single-sex education need to understand innate differences between girls and boys in order to be able to take full advantage of this innovative format.

  • Legal considerations for public school districts offering single-sex classrooms
    Amy Borman, J.D., Eastman & Smith
    Toledo, Ohio
    Administrators and educators offering single-sex educational opportunities within public schools in the United States should be cognizant of constitutional, statutory, and regulatory constraints on such programs. In this session, we will review each category of constraint. Constitutional constraints on single-sex education in public schools derive principally from the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment, e.g. the VMI case (1996) and Hogan v Mississippi (1982). Statutory constraints, from a federal perspective, derive principally from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, although individual states may also have applicable statutes. The role of federal and state regulations will also be considered. Guidelines for writing district policies which can pass constitutional, statutory, and regulatory muster will be offered.

  • Making the transition from coed to single-sex classrooms: Lessons learned through experience
    Daren Starnes, The Webb Schools
    Claremont, California
    Once the decision is made to implement single-sex classes in a coeducational school, whether on a limited scale or throughout the academic program, the transition process begins -- for students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Making this transition as smooth as possible is essential to the initial success of single-sex instruction in classrooms. Not surprisingly, the key to achieving desired outcomes lies in appropriate, timely education about the differences in how boys and girls learn, and the implications of those differences for all members of the school community.
    Our school has recently shifted sophomore Chemistry, Algebra II/Trig, Spanish I, and an introductory visual arts course from coed to single-sex classes. In this session, I'll describe the nuts-and-bolts details of this shift, including the things we did well and the things we could have done better.

  • Boys At Risk: Why have boys stopped caring about school?
    Dr. Judith Kleinfeld, Professor, University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    What is behind the widening gender gap in college attendance, favoring girls at the expense of boys? Our research suggests that young women -- of virtually every social group and cultural background -- have direction and focus. They have a "Plan" and often a "Backup Plan." The situation among boys is more complicated. Dislike of schooling (at least the schooling they have experienced) is one crucial element. If you hate school, you don't want more of it.

  • Gender-specific strategies for middle school algebra
    Dr. Gary Ross, Principal, Stratford Middle School
    Macon, Georgia
    We will examine gender differences in how middle-school girls and boys learn math. Session attendees will participate in activities which address these differences, for pre-algebra and algebra students. We will also consider optimal teaching strategies for girls and for boys.
    Our school has offered single-sex algebra classes for the past four years. I will share anecdotal evidence gathered over that period, as well as follow-up data gathered on these students regarding their subsequent achievement in high school math.

  • Remedial education: taking advantage of the single-sex format
    Dr. Abigail Norfleet James, Rockhouse Associates
    Orange, Virginia
    Traditionally, educational remediation programs have focused on managing attentional problems and developing skills in reading, writing, and math. However, learning disabled students in general and boys in particular are less likely to have good study strategies and usually need specific instruction to acquire learning skills. This session examines an intensive program for boys at risk for learning disabilities. In this course, where boys are the focus of educational efforts, they explore gender specific learning approaches and develop study skills in a single sex environment.
    Additionally, while research shows that girls are more likely to develop a variety of study approaches, they also benefit from skill development. Components for a similar course for girls will be outlined.

  • Single-sex education for African-American girls
    Presenters: Suzanne Muggy, Administrator (Toledo Public Schools, Ohio) - The Ella P. Stewart Academy for Girls is the first female single-gender public urban elementary school in the State of Ohio. She will share her experiences and researched based strategies on how to improve student achievement.
    Meg Molinsky and Debbie Durbin, The Odyssey Group, Dayton, Ohio - Consultants in single gender program design will present a blueprint for success, including how and why gender difference awareness is important in facility planning, program design and other key elements.
    We will discuss how to develop, implement, market and assess a successful urban single-sex educational program. To ensure a smooth initial year transition and success for the future, we will discuss key elements necessary in the development of rules, regulations and procedures.

  • Students at Risk:
    Benefits of single-sex education for at-risk middle school students

    Carol Thom, Principal, Stonewall Jackson Middle School
    Charleston, West Virginia
    We will discuss performance and behavior data comparing mixed sex classes to single sex classes, and describe effective instructional strategies to be used with both boys and girls. Special attention will be paid to students from minority backgrounds, students from lower-income families, and students in special education.

  • Building moral character at an all-boys school
    Kevin Davern, The Avalon School
    Rockville, Maryland
    Being a "real man" involves more than merely being a physically-mature male. It means achieving authentic masculinity. So: What is "authentic masculinity"? In this session, I will relate the insights which I have gained from years of working with boys and young men in the classroom and in the gym. In the 21st century, how can young men lead what we might call a "noble" life?

  • Where Girls Come First: the inspiring history of single-sex public schools for girls
    Ilana Debare, Co-Founder, the Julia Morgan School
    Oakland, California
    All-girl public schools may seem like a new idea, but they actually have a distinguished and inspiring history going back 150 years. Award-winning journalist Ilana DeBare will talk and show slides about the first generation of all-girl public schools in the 1800s; the decline and “near-death experience” of single-sex public education in the 1960s and 70s; and today’s revival of interest in all-girl classes and schools. She will address what today’s classroom teachers can learn from girls’ schools of the past, as well as the advantages and challenges of all-girl education.

    Ilana DeBare is author of Where Girls Come First: The Rise, Fall, and Surprising Revival of Girls’ Schools (Tarcher/Penguin), the first comprehensive history of all-girl schools. A graduate of Harvard College and the U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, she is a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. You can find information about her work on girls’ schools at www.wheregirlscomefirst.com.

  • Escaping Stereotypes: using the single-sex format to broaden educational horizons
    Dr. Abigail Norfleet James, Rockhouse Associates
    Orange, Virginia
    One frequent concern about single sex schools is that students might be limited to educational opportunities consistent with gender stereotypes. Research has shown that this is not true, that students in single sex schools are more likely than students in coed schools to explore areas traditionally associated with the opposite sex. Boys in all-boys schools are more likely to pursue interests in subjects such as art, music, history, and foreign languages. Girls at all-girls schools are more likely to study computer science and physics. This session will describe the findings of recent research demonstrating that both boys and girls attending single sex schools report cross-gendered interests in subjects as well as a greater willingness to engage in activities which are generally connected with the opposite sex.

  • Single-sex education in a public elementary school, part I: best practices
    Dr. Elizabeth Heins, Dr. Kathy Piechura, and Dr. Mercedes Tichenor
    Stetson University
    Presenters will discuss information about professional development workshops held for teachers in single-gender classrooms and how university faculty and teacher candidates work with these classes. Results of interviews with teachers and students, as well as results from standardized test data collected after the first year of implementation will be shared. Suggestions for implementing similar programs will also be presented.
  • Single-sex education in a public elementary school, Part II: teacher observations
    JoAnne Rodkey, Deborah Roberts, and Shari Mesibov
    Woodward Avenue Elementary, Volusia County Public Schools, Florida
    Single-sex education in a public elementary school, part II: teacher observations This presentation will provide an overview of and rationale for implementing single-gender classrooms at the elementary school level. Teachers who have implemented single-gender classes will provide insight on what they have learned and how this information can be utilized for working with boys and girls, particularly in the context of the single-gender classroom.

  • The benefits of single-sex kindergarten for both girls and boys
    Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, Founder, Hjalli Kindergarten
    Hjalli, Iceland
    Single-sex kindergarten can break down gender stereotypes. Girls in single-sex kindergarten can become more outgoing, more confident, and they find their "voice." An all-girls kindergarten offers the opportunity to engage in "dare training," encouraging each girl to take risks and maybe even shout! Boys in all-boys kindergarten may surprise you: they often become more caring, more nurturing, and quieter than they were in the coed kindergarten. And, boys in all-boys kindergarten love to draw. In a coed kindergarten, boys will tell you that "drawing is for girls."

  • "Tomboys" and "sissies": What do we really know about gender-atypical children?
    Dr. Leonard Sax, Executive Director, NASSPE
    Some girls despise playing with dolls. They'd rather roll in the mud and climb trees. Some boys can't stand football. They'd rather stay home and read a book. What do we know about such children?
    We know, or think we know, that girls hear better than boys, and that girls see differently than boys do. Do those differences apply with equal force to gender-atypical girls and boys? We know, or think we know, that the right kind of stress enhances learning in boys and impairs learning in girls. Does that finding hold with equal force in these children? Studies addressing these issues will be reviewed.


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We hope to see you in Cincinnati!