Failing Public Schools Experiment with Single-Sex Classrooms

Boys and Girls Together, Taught Separately in Public School, N.Y. Times, March 11, 2009, A24.


P.S. 140 in the Bronx starts separating students by gender in the fifth grade.  The separation started as an experiment last year to address sagging test scores and behavioral problems.  There are 445 such classrooms nationwide, according to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education.  Most have sprouted from a 2004 federal regulatory change that gave public schools freedom to separate boys and girls.  The separation has many critics, but separation within the same school comes at no extra cost.  At the Bronx school, there is little evidence of academic improvement but behavior problems have been reduced.  Rosemary C. Salamone, a law professor at St. John’s University, and the author of “Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling,” says that schools need to be thoughtful how they do this, or they run the risk of reinforcing stereotypes and playing to student’s weaknesses.

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