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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs