The results of the tests were striking. Researchers at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida conducted a pilot project of single-sex classrooms for grade school students. They found that proficiency scores more than doubled for some students. The least improvement was a 27 percent increase. So why would anyone want to cancel such a stellar program? Well, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants to do just that, and their argument has nothing to do with academic excellence but rather with the worn-out liberal mantras of discrimination and stereotyping.
The excellent results of this project were achieved by doing more than simply separating boys and girls into different classrooms. According to an article in The Seattle PI, “this program separated the students and then tailored a learning program around the needs specific to each sex.” The teachers went so far as to use microphones that electronically adjust the tone of their voices to match the level that research suggests is best for boys. They allowed boys to be boys and girls to be girls. When preparing for a test, for example, boys were allowed to go for a run or other more physical activities. Girls tended to like to do calming exercises, such as yoga.1
In addition to tailoring the classes to the boys and girls differently, the pilot program also made sure all the variables were nearly the same. The National Association For Single Sex Public Education (NASSPE) that published the results of this pilot program reported that the researchers at Stetson University in Florida used the nearby Woodward Avenue Elementary School to carry out its test. Students at the school were randomly assigned either to single-sex or coed classrooms. All relevant parameters in the tests were matched: the class sizes, demographics and level of teacher training.
The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results were as follows:
Percentage of students scoring proficient on the FCAT.
Boys in coed classes: 37% scored proficient.
Boys in single-sex classes: 86% scored proficient.
Girls in coed classes: 59% scored proficient.
Girls in single-sex classes: 75% scored proficient.
“Remember, these students were all learning the same curriculum in the same school.…Many of those boys who scored proficient in the all-boys classes had previously been labeled ‘ADHD’ [Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] or ‘ESE’ [Exceptional Student Education] in coed classes.”2
The separation of students only takes place in the classroom for tailored learning because the students still have lunch and recess together. Additionally, as required by law, parents can opt-out of the program if they want their children in a coed classroom — a choice not given when liberals imposed sex-education upon students in public schools.
Against such incontrovertible evidence of success, the ACLU has launched a national campaign called “Teach Kids, Not Stereotypes,” alleging that single-sex classroom environments are harmful. Without comprehensive studies to support their claims, they completely avoid the tremendous benefits of tailoring classroom settings to a child’s sex based on the inherent, natural and unequal needs of both sexes and only focus on the narrow minded mantra of discrimination regardless its poor result.
Even the education establishment is getting the message missed by the ACLU. In 2002, there were only about a dozen schools nationwide that had single-sex classrooms, now there are an estimated 500. Unfortunately the ACLU has created sufficient pressure against these programs nationwide to get schools in Missouri and Louisiana to drop out of the programs.
The ACLU claims that same-sex classrooms are a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which states, in part, that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Perhaps a definition of the word discrimination would help us understand what is wrong with the ACLU’s evaluation. A dictionary lists two definitions for discrimination:
1. The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age or sex.
2. Recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.
The key word in the first definition is prejudicial; which means having a preconceived judgment of something. The other definition merely recognizes the reality of difference between people. The ACLU is obviously misapplying the first meaning while Stetson University applies the second.
Meanwhile, the students are left to suffer from the backward and biased politics of liberals who demand total equality even at the price of educational achievement. To add insult to injury in this debate, the majority of the boys were minorities that had been failing miserably, primarily in reading and writing skills, and these programs did much to improve these skills.