News / USA

Experts Debate Merits of Same-Sex Education for Girls

Experts Debate Merits of Same Sex Education for Girlsi
X
Julie Taboh
May 07, 2014 7:56 PM
Do students learn better when they’re placed with classmates of the same sex? Educators at an all-girl school in Washington believe they do but others say there is no real evidence to support that claim and say there are other, more critical factors that make a school effective. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
Do students learn better when they’re placed with classmates of the same sex?

Educators at an all-girl school in Washington believe they do but others say there is no real evidence to support that claim. They say there other, more critical, factors that make a school effective. 

Anyreah Clavijo likes school and hopes to be a fashion designer when she grows up. The 10-year-old attended kindergarten in a co-ed classroom, but for the past five years, she’s been at Excel Academy, the first all-girl independently-run, taxpayer-supported school in Washington, D.C. 

Anyreah says she prefers being in an all-girl school.

“They make me feel like I’m loved and that I’m the smartest person in the world…boys are rough and they like to do other stuff than girls," she said.

Excel Academy, which opened its doors in 2008, offers a free, academically rigorous program to a mostly low-income community and serves more than 600 girls, from preschool through grade five.
Students at the all-girl Excel Academy in Washington, D.C. (J. Taboh/VOA)Students at the all-girl Excel Academy in Washington, D.C. (J. Taboh/VOA)
Kaye Savage, Excel Academy’s founder and chief executive officer, says that in order to break the inter-generational pattern of poverty, it’s important to start with girls and to start with them at a very young age.

“Often times in co-educational settings teachers teach to the boys,” she said. “They are a little bit louder and much more active than the girls and girls end up becoming second-class citizens in their own classrooms and in their own schools.”

But Galen Sherwin, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project, says that the data really isn’t there to support any claims about advantages for single-sex education.

“Similarities between boys and girls are much greater and more relevant than any differences,” she said. “Certainly any differences that exist are not relevant from an educational standpoint.”

But regardless of gender, a key factor for educational success is early development, says Elaine Weiss, an education expert at the Economic Policy Institute.

“Everything that happens in those early lives, from how stressed or non-stressed their mother was during pregnancy, how nourished she was, how many books there were in the home, how high quality their childcare was, whether they had access to a quality pre-kindergarten program; all of those things prepare them more or less for kindergarten,” she said.

And while Savage believes Excel Academy's gender-segregated classrooms make a difference, Weiss says other factors at the school have a bigger impact, especially for girls who would otherwise not have such opportunities.

“They start for example in pre-school, so they’re addressing some of that early gap before kids get to kindergarten,” she said. “They keep their classes relatively small, so that teachers can have a one-on-one conversation and interaction with students. They have enriching after-school opportunities."

In addition to smaller classes and at least two teachers per class in the lower grades, the school also provides the students with three nutritious meals a day. 
 
Savage has high expectations for her students, and girls in general.

“As you begin to look across the array of senior executive leadership roles in mega corporations, you do not see a lot of women,” she said. “We would like to begin to shift the dynamics.”

Anyreah Clavijo is not sure if she will continue her education in an all-girl program, but for now she says, she is happy where she is.

“I think I feel more confident in what I’m saying and what I do around my friends… and around my teachers,” she said.

And that is exactly what educators at Excel Academy are striving for.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: giles tomkin from: wallace nc usa
May 08, 2014 10:40 PM
Check 40 year old Dutch study showing these same major problems w mixed classes. And their solutions.

Can Americans ever look outside their own country?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs