|Students Dominic Goga, 11, far right, helps lead his class in a dance to motivate their brains in Julia Carlesso’s math class at Wolfe Middle School in Center Line Public Schools.Photo by David Schreiber|
January 24, 2008. Atlanta, GA. Is a single-sex class more
conducive to learning than a co-ed class? Margaret Richardson, the
director of the Education Department for ICIFUSA and NCE, says that it is. In the Rochester Post article
below, Richardson shares some insights gained from her experience working
with single-sex schools implementing the methodology of integral formation SM developed by the Legionaries of Christ. The article comments
on how some secular schools are turning to single-sex education
because of its proven benefits. It also mentions the upcoming
expansion of Everest Academy in Michigan, which will be
opening its high school in the fall of 2008. Article
reprinted with permission.
By Jennifer S. McDonald
C & G Staff Writer
Many researchers and educators agree that boys and girls
learn differently and that single-sex education can help students perform
While the idea of separating boys and
girls isn’t new, the reasoning behind the division of sexes
in an educational setting has changed in the last few
years, said Margaret Richardson, director of the International Center for
No longer are boys and girls separated
merely because of their possible attraction to one another, Richardson
said, but because growing research shows that by offering classes
within a single-sex setting, many students are provided with better
“A lot of times, people will
think we are Catholic schools and it’s the old way.
But that’s not the case. There is certainly the element
of reducing that for boys and girls, but that is
a very minor piece of it. We wouldn’t separate them
specifically for the reason of separating,” Richardson said.
“What we see is it does make a difference in
Based in Atlanta, ICIF provides curriculum to
an international network of Catholic schools and universities.
“We’re not saying that every boy learns differently than every
girl, but instead, we have to recognize gender when we
develop educational programs for our students.”
Many Catholic, charter
and private schools have followed this fashion for years, but
the trend has surged within public schools as well, after
the U.S. Department of Education implemented new regulations in 2006
that allow public school districts to create single-sex schools and
As of November 2007, more than 366
public schools in the U.S. offered single-sex educational, up from
four in 1998, according to the National Association for Single
Sex Public Education.
This number includes Wolfe Middle School
in the Center Line Public Schools district.
the 200 sixth-graders enrolled at Wolfe, about 100 are enrolled
in math, social studies, science and language arts gender team
courses, Principal Amy Maruca said.
“What happened is
our eighth- and ninth-grade students were essentially not performing the
way we’d like to see them perform,” Maruca said. “That’s
not just a Center Line problem, that’s a national trend.
So we started to ask, ‘What should we be looking
at to make a change?’”
Gender team courses
were introduced during the fall of 2007 for sixth-graders at
Wolfe. Each student was pre-tested and will be re-tested at
the end of the year to determine if the gender
team classes are having the desired effect.
is research out there that says, specifically at the middle
school age, there’s a lot of big social dynamics between
boys and girls going on. They’re starting to notice one
another and that sets off all kinds of things,” Maruca
said. “Girls don’t want to look too smart in front
of the boys, and sometimes the boys are intimidated, especially
in language arts, when they don’t want to read what
they wrote in front of girls.
of those stressors might be helpful in getting them to
concentrate on academics and getting them solidly prepared for eighth-
Everest Academy in Clarkston decided to open
a new Everest Catholic High School in the fall of
2008. The academy, which opened in 1991, offers co-ed education
for preschool through second-grade and gender-specific education for grades three
through eight. For the 2008-2009 school year, their new high
school will offer gender-specific ninth-grade, with additional grades added each
successive year, Director of Admissions Maura Plante said.
“Because we are single-gender, we can see all of the
benefits it has,” Plante said.
Everest Academy will
host an open house for their new high school Sunday,
Feb. 10, starting at 1 p.m. Leonard Sax with the
NASSPE will be a featured guest, Plante said.
“Our students are flourishing in the single-gender environment, and our
parents are thrilled,” Plante said. “We just felt we needed
to give our families that single-gender option at the different
Some researchers claim that the brains
of girls and boys develop along different trajectories. NASSPE says
these differences are genetically programmed and are present at birth,
while other differences manifest later in childhood.
of these differences, some researchers and educators believe girls and
boys learn in subtly different ways and that it’s better
to teach them in different environments.
true for Patrick Adams, principal of De La Salle Collegiate
High School in Warren. The goal of the college preparatory
Catholic high school is to encourage students to realize their
full potential and become men of great character, morality and
faith, he said.
“I think research will tell
you, and I concur, that boys and girls are different,”
Adams said. “I think the rate of maturity in a
young male is far slower than with a young female.
If you’re going to have that big disparity in maturity
level at the same grade level, it speaks a lot
about dynamics that can negatively affect learning.”
classrooms can also break down gender stereotypes, Adams said, where
girls are more likely to take classes in math, science
and information technology, while boys will more likely pursue interests
in art, music, drama and foreign languages.
been at both types of schools as a teacher, as
a coach and as an administrator, and I think that
both have their redeeming qualities,” Adams said. “I don’t think
there’s a clear-cut answer. I don’t believe that either single-sex
or co-ed schools are best, hands down.”
reach Staff Writer Jennifer S. McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org or
at (586) 279-1112.