vs. Coed: The Evidence |
What's the evidence? What have researchers found when they
compare single-sex education with coeducation?
Let's begin with two recent studies in which students were RANDOMLY assigned either to single-gender or coed classrooms, with no opt-out.
We are aware of no other studies in which students were randomly assigned either to single-gender or coed classrooms, with no parental opt-out allowed.
Any such study would be illegal in the United States; in the United States,
federal statute 34 CFR 106.34 requires that any assignment to a
single-gender classroom or school must be completely voluntary.
In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania traveled to Seoul South Korea, because in Seoul,
students are RANDOMLY assigned either to single-gender or to coed high schools. The assignment is truly random, and compulsory.
Students cannot "opt out" of either the single-gender format or the coed format.
This policy of random assignment was instituted in 1974 specifically to prevent clustering of students from particular backgrounds at particular schools.
In recent decades, many Korean school districts have loosened the policy and they now allow parents to express preferences or
to "opt out" of particular schools. But not in Seoul. In Seoul, it's still a true random assignment with no opt-out.
The scholars from Penn recognized that the random nature of the assignment creates the opportunity to compare single-gender schools with coed schools,
without the usual confounding variables which would accompany any attempt at a similar comparison among North American schools.
All the schools in the study are publicly-funded; none of them charges any fees or tuition.
The researchers found no differences between the single-gender and the coed schools in terms of teacher quality or in teacher training.
Class sizes in the boys' schools were no different than in the typical coed school, and class sizes were actually slightly larger in girls' schools
than in the typical coed school.
There were no differences in socioeconomic background or prior academic achievement between students attending single-gender schools and
those attending coed schools.
What were the results? Girls attending girls' schools were significantly more likely to attend a 4-year college
compared with girls attending coed schools (Cohen's d = 0.5, p < 0.01).
Likewise, boys who graduated from boys' schools were significantly more likely to attend a 4-year college compared with
boys who graduated from coed schools (Cohen's d = 0.8, p < 0.01).
All these effects remain significant after controlling for eligibility for free school lunches, prior academic achievement,
and other demographic and student parameters. Boys at boys' schools also earned significantly higher test scores compared with boys at coed schools;
likewise, girls at girls' schools also earned significantly higher test scores compared with girls at coed schools. The authors conclude:
Our analyses show that single-sex schools are causally linked with both college entrance exam scores and college-attendance
rates for both boys and girls. Attending all-boys schools or all-girls schools, rather than attending coeducational schools,
is significantly associated with higher average scores on Korean and English test scores.
Compared with coeducational schools, single-sex schools have a higher percentage of graduates who moved on to four-year colleges.
The full text of this article is now available online. It was published in October 2012 by the journal Demography,
This article is important. As the authors observe, this study is the first large-scale study of students RANDOMLY assigned to single-gender and coed schools.
Our only concern with the article is with its underlying premise: namely, that either single-gender or coed must be "best."
We believe that premise is fundamentally mistaken. The single-gender format is better for some students, and coed is better for others,
as we stress on our new web site, The National Association for Choice in Education.
(In November 2011, we changed the name "NASSPE" to NACE, The National Association for Choice in Education, for reasons explained at the new web site.)
The all-girls format can greatly enhance the engagement of girls in physics.
That reality was demonstrated most dramatically by the research of Bettina Hannover and Ursula Kessels.
They randomly assigned 401 8th-graders either to single-gender physics class or to coed physics class, for one school year.
At the end of the year, the girls who had been randomly assigned to the all-girls classroom were more engaged in physics and
less likely to agree with statements such as "physics is for boys."
Girls who had been randomly assigned to coed physics class were more likely to agree that "physics is for boys."
The article is titled
"When being a girl matters less: accessibility of gender-related self-knowledge in single-sex and coeducational classes and its impact on students'
physics-related self-concept of ability," British Journal of Educational Psychology, volume 78, pp. 273 – 289, 2008.
First point to remember, when you consider evidence regarding the effectiveness of gender-separate classrooms:
Simply putting girls in one room, and boys in another, is no guarantee of anything good happening. On the contrary: some public schools which have adopted
single-sex classrooms, without appropriate preparation, have experienced bad outcomes. Dr. Leonard Sax, executive director of NASSPE,
made this point back in 2005 in a commentary for Education Week entitled "the Promise and PERIL of Single-Sex Public Education".
The single-sex format creates opportunities that don't exist in the coed classroom. Teachers can employ strategies in the all-girls classroom, and in the all-boys classroom, which don't work as well
(or don't work at all) in the coed classroom. If teachers have appropriate training and professional development, then great things
can happen, and often do happen. On this page you can learn about the experience of schools such as Woodward Avenue Elementary in Deland, Florida; Foley Intermediate in Foley, Alabama; Jefferson Middle School
in Springfield, Illinois; the Cunningham School for Excellence in Waterloo, Iowa; and many other schools which have seen a dramatic improvement in grades and test scores after adopting single-sex classrooms.
But those schools did much more than simply put girls in one room and boys in another. In each of the schools just mentioned, teachers received training from NASSPE in practical gender-specific classroom strategies and
best practices for the gender-separate classroom. For more information about NASSPE-sponsored professional development, please contact us.
Researchers at Stetson University in Florida
completed a three-year pilot project comparing single-sex classrooms with coed classrooms at Woodward Avenue Elementary School,
a nearby neighborhood public school. For example, students in the 4th grade at Woodward were assigned either to single-sex or
coed classrooms. All relevant parameters were matched: the class sizes were all the same, the demographics were the same,
all teachers had the same training in what works and what doesn't work, etc. On the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test),
here were the results:
Percentage of students scoring proficient on the FCAT
boys in coed classes: 37% scored proficient
girls in coed classes: 59% scored proficient
girls in single-sex classes: 75% scored proficient
boys in single-sex classes: 86% scored proficient.
Remember, these students were all learning the same curriculum in the same school. And, this school "mainstreams" students who are learning-disabled, or who have ADHD etc. Many of those boys who scored proficient
in the all-boys classes had previously been labeled "ADHD" or "ESE" in coed classes.
2008 update: in a recent report on NBC Nightly News, Professor Kathy Piechura-Couture of Stetson University , reported
that over the four years of the pilot study, 55% of boys in the coed classrooms scored proficient on the FCAT, compared with 85% of boys in the all-boys classes. Same class size.
Same curriculum. Same demographics.
2013 update: at our NASSPE conference in October 2013, the team of researchers from Stetson informed us that the gap between the single-gender
classrooms and coed schools has narrowed. The single-gender classrooms remain high-performing, but the coed classrooms are catching up. After
extensive interviews with the teachers, the Stetson researchers believe that the coed classrooms are catching up because the teachers are learning
how to deploy the strategies learned in the single-gender classrooms in coed classrooms. Critics of single-gender classroom formats often insist
that we should ignore gender differences or work against them. But the teachers' own experience suggests just the opposite: that working
in consonance with gender differences can help to boost achievement for both girls and boys, even in a coed classroom.
Researchers at Cambridge University released results of a four-year study of gender differences
in education. The researchers investigated hundreds of different schools, representing a wide variety of
socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds, seeking to identify strategies which improved performance of both girls
and boys while narrowing the gender gap between girls and boys.
What makes this study really unique is that the researchers did not merely observe and document what they found;
they then intervened, and attempted to graft those strategies onto other, less successful schools.
A total of 50 schools were involved either as "originator schools"
(schools which had successfully improved student performance while narrowing the gender gap)
or "partner schools" (less successful schools onto which the "originator" strategies were grafted).
One of those strategies was single-sex education.
These researchers found that the single-sex classroom format was remarkably effective at boosting boys'
performance particularly in English and foreign languages, as well as
improving girls' performance in math and science.
Here is how Dr. Sax (director of NASSPE) summarized the report in his newsletter to NASSPE e-subscribers
(if you would like to be on our e-mailing list, please contact us):
I had the honor of sharing the podium last week with the lead authors of the study, Michael Younger and Molly Warrington. Together, we did six presentations in two days! It was a privilege to be able to discuss the study with the lead investigators face-to-face. Michael Younger more than once referred to the improved performance of the boys in the single-sex foreign languages classes as "astonishing." Both researchers emphasized that it is not sufficient simply to put all the girls in one room and all the boys in another and say "let's give it a whirl." Teachers and administrators need to be committed to the program and must be determined to see it through.
The full report contains many fascinating insights from students and teachers. Consider this comment from one of the boys in the single-gender class:
"We don't just do war poems and Macbeth, we do Wordsworth too. It's a challenge,
in a way, which Mr J sets us to show the girls we're capable of doing it, but I
couldn't talk about these things if there were girls there!" (p. 85)
The researchers conducted extensive interviews with individual students, and thus were able to distinguish among students rather than lumping all the boys into one group and all the girls into another. The researchers were particularly interested in gender-atypical boys: boys who don't care for sports, for example. How do these pupils fare in the all-boys classroom?
Here's another excerpt: "Interviews with [these] 'non-macho' boys suggest that these boys did not feel
exposed in single-sex classes. . . .Such boys told us - without exception - that they felt at ease
and comfortable, that they did not experience bullying or aggressive behaviour from other
boys, and that they were not intimidated by the atmosphere in all-boys' classes." (p. 86)
read the BBC's report of the study
You can download the full report (162 pages, Adobe PDF).
U. S. Department of Education study of single-sex education "a disappointment"
a "missed opportunity," "many studies overlooked"
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: namely, breadth of educational opportunity. 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:
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;
and after" studies, examining a particular school or
schools before and after the introduction of single-sex classrooms.
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;
studies, in which investigators study coed and single-sex
schools while attempting to control for extraneous variables
First category of evidence: Major nationwide studies:
England, July 2002: The National Foundation for Educational
Research was commissioned to study the effect of school size
and school type (single-sex vs. coed) on academic performance.
The Foundation studied 2,954 high schools throughout England,
where single-sex public high schools are widely available. They
released their report on July 8 2002. They found:
1. 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.)
2. 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. 43). No such effect was
seen for boys: for example, boys at single-sex schools were
no more likely (actually somewhat less likely) to take courses
in cooking than were boys at coed schools.
3. Schools of medium size (about 180 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.
The Foundation concluded: "It would be possible to infer
from the findings that, in order to maximise performance, [public]
schools should [have] about 180 pupils per cohort, or year,
and be single-sex." You can download the full text of the report as a PDF (115 pages, 13 MB) by clicking here.
A large Australian study, 2000:The Australian Council
for Educational Research (ACER) compared performance of students at single-sex
and coeducational schools. Their analysis, based
on six years of study of over 270,000 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."
The report concludes: "Evidence suggests that coeducational
settings are limited by their capacity to accommodate the
large differences in cognitive, social and development growth
rates of boys and girls aged between 12 and 16." The
findings of the Australian commission were widely reported
and were available on the ACER site through 2005. Curiously, late in 2005 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
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. In 1998,
the British Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) tested
whether socioeconomic variables might account for the superior
performance of students in single-sex schools. They examined
test results from 800 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.
Source: Clare Dean, "Inspectors say girls' schools are the best," Times Educational Supplement, October 9, 1998.
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. Dr. Able's
study documented superior academic performance of students
in single-sex schools, after controlling for socioeconomic
class and other variables. "The most significant finding
was that the advantage of single-sex schooling is even greater
for boys in terms of academic results than for girls,"
Able said. "The unsubstantiated mythology of the educational
establishment has been that girls do better in single sex
schools but that boys are 'brought on' by the more studious
girls in a co-educational environment. 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. "[Our] results suggest that single sex schools
give an even greater academic advantage to boys than for girls.
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.
Source: Alison Gordon, "In a class of their own: boys benefit even more than girls from single-sex schools, A-level grades study reveals," in The Mail on Sunday (UK), June 11 2000, p. 42.
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.
Source: Marlene Hamilton. Performance levels in science and other subjects for Jamaican adolescents attending single-sex and coeducational high schools, International Science Education, 69(4):535-547, 1985.
Second category of evidence: "Before and after"
Critics of single-sex education sometimes object that studies
comparing students at single-sex schools with students at
coed schools are intrinsically untrustworthy, because (they
say) one can never control for all the confounding variables.
"Before and after" studies are done at just one
school, before and after its transformation to a single-sex
school. Same students, same teachers, same facilities. These
studies offer another compelling proof of the superiority
of single-sex education.
In 2000, 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. . . with astonishing results. Mr. Wright was concerned
about the high number of discipline referrals he was seeing:
about 30 children every day were being sent to the principal's
office because of discipline problems (about 80% were boys).
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. "Overnight.
The change in the atmosphere happened overnight." Same
kids, same teachers. Switching to single-sex classrooms had
a dramatic effect, instantly.
But improved discipline wasn't the only benefit of the change.
"We were just doing it to make sure that the discipline
was taken care of. 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 20-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. For example: 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.
Three years after making the change, the proportion of Shenfield
boys achieving high scores on standardized tests had risen by
26%. The girls performance improved only slightly less, by
22%, and they still outperformed the boys.
Source: Judith O'Reilly, "Mixed school hits new heights with single-sex classes." Sunday Times (London), August 20, 2000.
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 1994. Since
that time, the number of pupils scoring high on the GCSE exam
has risen from 40 percent to 79 percent. Dr. Alan Davison,
the principal, comments that "Men and women's brains
are different. It is crucial that we in education recognise
Source: Times Educational Supplement (London, UK), "News & Opinion," August 25 2000, "London School Segregates. . ."
The "before and after" experience of schools undertaking
this transformation has been so consistent, and so impressive,
that the British Secretary of Education (then David Blunkett) asked
the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) to
investigate whether this model should be applied widely
throughout Britain, in a wholesale conversion of coed schools
to single-sex academies.
Source: Nicholas Pyke, "Blunkett plans single-sex classrooms." The Independent (London), August 20, 2000, p. 8. Note: In June 2001, 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.
68 percent of boys who were assigned to single-sex classes
subsequently passed a standardized test of language skills,
vs. 33 percent of boys assigned to coed classes. Among the
girls, 89 percent assigned to single-sex classes passed the
test, vs. 48 percent of girls assigned to coed classes.
Source: Julie Henry, "Help for the boys helps the girls," Times Educational Supplement (London, UK), June 1 2001.
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."
For example, at Morley High School in Leeds, only one-third
of boys had been earning passing grades in German and French
prior to institution of the program. After the change to single-sex
classes, 100% of boys earned passing grades. Click on the
link to read the story which appeared in the Sunday Telegraph
March 30, 2003.
Third category of evidence: academic studies comparing
single-sex schools with coed schools
Cornelius Riordan, professor of sociology at Providence University
in Rhode Island, published a series of studies in the 1980's and early 1990's comparing
short- and long-term outcomes of graduates of single-sex Catholic
schools in the United States with graduates of coed Catholic
schools in the United States. 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. However, this belief
sets him apart from many other researchers in the field, particularly outside the
Source: Cornelius Riordan. Girls and Boys in School: together or separate? New York: Teachers College Press, 1990.
Researchers at the University of Michigan compared graduates
of Catholic single-sex high schools with graduates of Catholic
coeducational private schools. Boys in the single-sex high
schools scored better in reading, writing, and math than did
boys at coed high schools. Girls at the single-sex schools
did better in science and reading than girls in coed schools.
In fact, these researchers found that students at single-sex
schools had not only superior academic achievement, but also
had higher educational aspirations, more confidence in their
abilities, and a more positive attitude toward academics,
than did students at coed high schools. And, girls at the
single-sex schools had less stereotyped ideas about what women
can and cannot do.
Source: Valerie Lee and Anthony Bryk. Effects of single-sex secondary schools on student achievement and attitudes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 78:381-395, 1986.
The same University of Michigan team
later reported that the beneficial effects of single-sex education
don't end after students leave the school. They found that
graduates of single-sex schools were more likely to go to
a prestigious college, and more likely to aspire to graduate
school or professional school, than were graduates of coed
schools. That finding held for both girls and boys.
Source: Valerie Lee and H. M. Marks. Sustained effects of the single-sex secondary school experience on attitudes, behaviors, and values in college. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82:578-592, 1990.
In one remarkable study of 2,777 English high school students,
girls at coed schools were found to lose ground to boys in
science and vocabulary as they progressed through high school.
Exactly the opposite occurred at single-sex schools: the girls
at single-sex schools outperformed both the boys at single-sex
schools and the boys at coed schools. Again, this study reported
the familiar pattern: girls at single-sex schools on top,
followed by boys at single-sex schools, then boys at coed
schools, with girls at coed schools doing the worst.
Source: J. D. Finn. Sex differences in educational outcomes: a cross-national study. Sex Roles, 6:9-25, 1980.
Not just better students; more well-rounded people
The benefits of single-sex schools are not only academic.
Just as importantly, single-sex education has been shown to
broaden students' horizons, to allow them to feel free to
explore the own strengths and interests, not constrained by
gender stereotypes. A British researcher compared the attitudes
of 13 and 14 year-old pupils toward different subjects. Students
at coed schools tended to have gender-typical subject preferences:
boys at coed schools liked math and science and did NOT like
drama or languages, whereas boys at single-sex schools were
more interested in drama, biology and languages. Likewise,
girls at girls-only schools were more interested in math and
science than were girls at coed schools.
Source: A. Stables. Differences between pupils from mixed and single-sex schools in their enjoyment of school subjects and in their attitudes to science and to school. Educational Review, 42(3):221-230, 1990.
A University of Virginia study published in 2003 found that boys who attended single-sex schools were more than twice as likely to pursue interests in subjects such as art, music, drama, and foreign languages, compared to boys of comparable ability who attended coed schools. Single-sex schools break down gender stereotypes. Coed schools reinforce gender stereotypes.
Source: Abigail Norfleet James and Herbert Richards, ?Escaping Stereotypes: educational attitudes of male alumni of single-sex and coed schools,? Psychology of Men and Masculinity, 4:136-148, 2003.
Andrew Hunter, now the principal of Merchiston Castle School
in Edinburgh (Scotland) agrees. Having taught in both coed
schools and single-sex schools, Mr. Hunter observes that there
is "a subtle and invidious pressure towards gender stereotyping
in mixed [= coed] schools. Girls tend to be cautious about
going into subjects or activities which are thought of as
essentially boys' things, but in boys' schools boys feel free
to be themselves and develop, to follow their interests and
talents in what might be regarded as non-macho pursuits: music,
Quoted in: Elizabeth Buie, "Today's sexual evolution," The Herald (Glasgow), November 21 2000, p. 16.
Brian Walsh, who has been a principal
at both boys' schools and coed schools, made this observation:
"Boys ordinarily do not even try to sing in a coed school,
whereas they love choral singing in a boys' school; in the
coed setting they make fun of French pronunciation, whereas
in the single-sex setting they enjoy becoming fluent in French;
in drama, they muck up or clown around to avoid seeming imperfect
in a coed setting, whereas they excel at drama when by themselves.
Quoted in: David Riesman. A margin of difference: the case for single-sex education. In J. R. Blau (editor), Social roles and social institutions, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1990, pp. 243-244.
At many coed schools, it's not "cool" for kids to
be excited about school. The game of who likes who, who's
going out with who, who's cool and who's not, is what's really
important at most coed schools. That's seldom the case at
single-sex schools. Edison Trickett and Penelope Trickett,
comparing students at private single-sex schools in the United
States with students at private coed schools in the United
States, found that students in the single-sex schools had
a far more positive attitude toward academics than did students
in coed schools. This finding held for both boys and girls.
The students at the single-sex schools also developed better
organizational skills, and were more involved in classroom
Source: Edison Trickett, Penelope Trickett, et al. The independent school experience: aspects of the normative environment of single-sex and coed secondary schools, Journal of Educational Psychology, 74(3):374-381, 1982.
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