March 7, 2011

Private Classrooms

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 9:01 am

by Elizabeth Freyman

In the United States, single-gender classrooms are rare in public schools.  Yet, research suggests that one of the best ways to improve the education system is to separate students by gender.  The benefits include improved test scores and psychological well-being.

Both male and female students improve their scores on standardized tests when educated in a single-sex environment.  This claim has been incredibly difficult to support because of the difference in backgrounds of students in private schools and public schools.  Researchers have tried several methods of comparison in an attempt to eliminate as many variables as possible.  Some of the more common are examining improvement between sophomore and senior year, comparing students in single-gender private schools to those in co-ed private schools, and observing students moved from co-ed classes to single-gender classes.

One study that examined the difference between students in Catholic single-gender schools versus Catholic co-ed schools found that students in single-gender school outperformed their counterparts in every academic area in both their sophomore and senior years.  The same study also showed that students in single-gender schools also held less stereotypical views of gender roles by senior year.

Janice L. Streitmatter observed students going from co-ed classrooms to girls-only classrooms and from girls-only classrooms to co-ed classrooms in her book “For Girls Only: Making a Case for Single-Sex Schooling.”  Streitmatter found that girls in single-gender environments were more comfortable, likely to participate, and successful in future co-ed classes.  The girls she interviewed had positive things to say about their experiences in single-gender classrooms and felt more confident in their academic abilities.

Although it has been difficult for researchers to eliminate variables, it seems that private schools have had excellent results with single-gender education and public schools are beginning to experiment with separating students by gender.  Single-gender classrooms appear to be an excellent starting point to improve the educational system in The United States.



  1. What were the results for females of co-ed classrooms transitioning to single-gender classrooms in Janice L. Streitmatter’s study? Were there any students who disliked the change and lack of diversity? Creating single gender classrooms could take away some of the distraction in classrooms from students. Eliminating the opposite gender from classrooms could also hinder younger children from learning to compromise and work together with diversity. It is an easy fix to create classrooms separated by gender so why haven’t schools adopted this approach?
    -Jennifer Burwell

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 7, 2011 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

  2. Kyle Gooding

    I could definitely see the benefits of having single gender classes or schools. Without people of the opposite sex around I could see children’s abilities to focus going way up. Along with this comes the thought that guys wouldn’t need to impress the ladies, or vice versa, so people would just get along better in general. At the same time though, being around the opposite gender at a young age could be crucial to our development since the real world is not segregated by sex. Having only one gender around for most of someone’s childhood could cripple their skills with the other gender. I could see how this path would boost academic performance through the roof but at the same time it could take away some of a child’s crucial people skills that he/she will need later in life.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 8, 2011 @ 8:52 pm | Reply

  3. Katherine Martin

    I have heard the argument you are making many times. I think it is an interesting argument that should be further researched and debated. However, I do have some concerns. When you said that students enrolled in a same sex school are more likely to succeed and participate it makes me wonder if this is lost after schooling in the real world. I think that minimal exposure of one sex to the other could make situations in the real world, such as in the workplace, uncomfortable for those individuals because they are not used to working and cooperating with members of the opposite sex. The truth is that outside of gender discriminating classrooms the only place we are separated by our sex is in the bathroom. I also do not think that this would work in the public school system. If separating kids by gender for schooling really is the best way to go, then it would only be fair to lower income families that public schooling is taught the same way. This would mean building new buildings in an already economically struggling school system. Not to mention the obstacle of then keeping the gender separated schools equal in quality. Overall I think that separating all schools by gender would be a failure and a step back in equality for all people.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 10:45 am | Reply

  4. – Ben Fortkamp
    One question I have immediately after reading this article is, “Is the whole school a gender specific school, or just the classrooms?” I think that this idea of separating genders has its pros and cons. Obviously the pros are going to be the higher test scores and psychological well-being. But I would be concerned with how the boys and girls are going to learn to work with and simply be around the opposite sex and also what will be done with transgender students? Growing up in a school where boys and girls were mixed in classrooms, I believe that I learned half of what I know about the opposite sex through these classrooms. Classrooms teach students how to react with other students no matter what the sex, but at the same especially dealing with the opposite sex. So to take that away from students is an “iffy” thought. Also where are the transgender students going to be placed? I do not even know how to begin wondering how this situation would be done fairly or to what standards. While there are pros to gender specific classrooms, a person cannot overlook the cons either.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 11:31 am | Reply

  5. Rebecca Freeman

    You’re blog brings up a good question: Whether or not single gender schools are more successful for a person or co-ed schools. I could see benefits and negative points for each. For a single gender school, I feel like there might be less distractions because students wouldn’t be flirting with the opposite sex or trying to impress. Some girls may feel intimidated by men in the classroom, and the opposite is the same. I feel like for most people, they can relate to and are more comfortable around their same sex. The negative aspect to this would be that since the students would be having no interaction with the opposite sex, they are being deprived from what the real world is like, a mixture of genders. It’s important to be able to communicate between the opposite sex, as well as your own. I think it all goes back to the individual person. Some may feel more comfortable in a single sex environment, and another work better in a co-ed environment. You’re results were interesting to learn that single sex classrooms seem to be more productive. They may be more productive in the classroom, but when they get to a job in the real world, it’s not always going to be same sex.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 6:25 pm | Reply

  6. Cara Meder

    I personally went from a co-ed Catholic grade school to a single sex Catholic high school so I can understand the benefits of both. It is true that I found myself a lot more distracted in grade school due to the fact that there were boys in the classroom with me and I was more focused on unimportant things like looks. In high school virtually no one worried about how they looked because who was there to impress? I don’t know that I believe that going to a co-ed school affects grades that dramatically though because those who are willing to put effort into their work will do so regardless to who they are surrounded by. Keeping a child in a single sex school environment for all of grade school and high school could also have its flaws mostly being the lack of diversity which is important for a person’s development.

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 12:05 am | Reply

  7. Michael J Harrington

    All I know is that when I was on swim team I swam a HECK of a lot faster during co-ed practices than when we switched to segregated.

    But really, what kid can’t distract themselves in school? I frimly believe that if I went to a single gender school I would have slacked off just as well as I did in my co-ed one. I mean I had plenty of friends that were female, and sure, with flirting and stuff thrown in the mix I definately had less concentration on my school work, but it’s not like were in the stone age here…HELLOOOO…CELL PHONES!! It was always easier for me to text sexy women than speak to them in class because:
    1-Not every girl in the world went to my school
    2-Teachers aren’t completely deaf
    3-Comon…textings fun!
    And really…girls were thinking about how they looked in grade school? No offense but I wasn’t even looking until middle school, at the earliest. In elementary school I was busy eating glue and picking my nose, both of which would have made me very much unattractive to the other sex.

    But my most important point is thus, if I had gone to a single sex school I would have done terrible grade-wise-mainly because I would have killed myself (too much testosterone in a small area…bad bad idea). And dead kids don’t earn As (or if they do I don’t think that they count on any future transcripts).

    Please America…don’t segregate schools…

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  8. I think that there are benefits of both co-ed and single gender schooling. I think that attending single gender schools can help academically in that I feel like the opposite gender can sometimes be a distraction. In high school many girls and boys are distracted with each other. Relationships in the classroom can cause students to focus on things other than school. I also think that with other genders, people focus more on unimportant things like appearance. I feel like if i went to an all girl school I would wear sweats and I wouldn’t spend as much time getting ready in the morning. I also think that people would feel more comfortable around people of the same sex.

    I also think that there are benefits of a co-ed schools in that it provides a diverse environment. People will be able to interact with others of the opposite gender which will prepare them for the future. In the work field people are not divided into different genders and co-ed schools will reinforce this idea.

    – Chamilka Gunasekera

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  9. This is a really interesting topic and it is one of those things that I really don’t think I’ve formed an opinion on yet. As far as grades go, I don’t believe that the single-gender schools will always out perform the multi-gender schools. However, I’m also smart enough to realize that I have this bias because I went to a multi-gender private school and I did just fine. I really liked the point made that said that the single-sex schools often times had lower rates of stereotypical gender roles, something that I have never considered.I think it’s probably different for each person. For myself, I think I would’ve struggled in a single-sex environment and enjoyed the “conversations” I had with my female peers. But then again, I never experienced both sides so who knows. Anyways I think it is definitely a topic of interest and should be studied further

    P.S. These all boys and girls schools are not completely isolated for four years… they still see each other outside of classes.

    -Will Paton

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 3:35 pm | Reply

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