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  • AwardsA four-year study by researchers at Cambridge University in England looked at gender differences in education. A total of 50 schools were involved, with the object of looking at schools that had successfully improved student performance while also narrowing the gap in achievement between boys and girls. The researchers found that single-gender classrooms were remarkably effective at boosting boys’ performance, particularly in English and foreign languages, as well as improving girls’ performance in science and math.
  • AwardsA public school in Seattle, Washington changed to single-sex classes. Nothing else changed: the class sizes remained the same, the teacher salaries remained the same, etc. The only change was that the classes were now single-sex. That simple change had a dramatic effect. As Mr. Wright described it in May 2002, “In the [coed] environment that we had before, we spent most of our time taking care of crises. Now we’re actually teaching kids. In terms of bullying: we’ve almost completely stopped that. Once we split the classes, the boys went from the 10th percentile to the 73rd percentile [on the Washington Assessment of Student Learning]
  • You’ll sometimes hear critics say, “Maybe boys do better academically in single-gender schools, but surely boys do better in terms of social adjustment at coed schools.” Maybe not. Educators at a conference in Sydney, Australia heard several speakers present evidence that boys who attend single-sex schools may do better in terms of maturity and social adjustment, than boys who attend coed schools. Dr. Bruce Cook, principal of the Southport School on the Gold Coast, told the audience that boys educated in single-sex schools end up being more confident around girls. “In coed schools, boys tend to adopt a ‘masculine’ attitude because girls are there,” he said. “They feel they have to demonstrate their emerging masculinity by gross macho over-reaction.” Boys in single-sex schools “become more sensitive men,” and they’re more polite.
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  • A nationwide study by Marcia Gentry and her associates, published in 2002 in the Journal of Educational Psychology, confirmed what many earlier studies had suggested: at every age, boys in coed schools are less enthusiastic about school than girls are. This finding holds whether you’re looking at urban schools or rural schools, affluent schools or schools located in low-income communities. And, as boys get older, the “enthusiasm gap” widens. The older boys get, the more they tend to perceive doing well in school as “geeky.” Boys perceive the coed school as an institution run largely by women and run largely according to women’s rules: sit still, don’t make too much noise, don’t be disruptive. They see that the top students are girls, and the “teacher’s pet” is either a girl or a “feminized male” (to use Patricia Cayo Sexton’s rather derogatory term). So, boys come to devalue academic excellence. If you’re a boy at a coed school, being an “A” student does not raise your status with other boys. At most coed schools, being an “A” student will lower your status with other boys.

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