NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Memphis School Experiments With Single Sex Classes

February 26, 2001

Co-ed is out and all-boy or all-girl classes are in at Campus School, a public school on the grounds of the University of Memphis, Tennessee. The experiment is operated by the College of Education as a laboratory for teaching grades one through six.

In its first year of operation, parents, teachers and students are giving the classes segregated by sex high marks.

Here are some of the benefits participants name:

  • School officials say they have fewer discipline problems and distractions -- and they are achieving promising academic results.
  • Although girls' science and math grades traditionally begin to drop in the fifth grade, girls in the segregated classes are holding their own -- without fear of ridicule by the boys.
  • All-boys science and math classes can proceed at their own pace.
  • Girls who were formerly meek and shy are beginning to take positions as school leaders -- without having to defer to the boys.

Both classes share recess time, and 20 of the boys and girls come together for gifted classes weekly. Each week, the girls switch classes with the boys for two hours of science. The boys' male teacher conducts the girls' classes, while the boys meet with a female teacher for creative writing and composition.

Teaching specialists say that some studies have shown boys tend to be called upon more often than girls in mixed classes.

Source: Lila Garlington, "Single-Sex Classes Get High Marks in School Experiment," Washington Times, February 26, 2001.


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