The United States Department of Education has given local school districts flexibility to establish either single gender classes or single gender schools. I am posting several articles in the Course Material section of the Course Menu that discuss the latest findings in this area. Conduct your own on-line research (identify at least two current articles by name of author, date of publication, publication name) to assist you in developing a response to the following:
You are the superintendent of a school district that serves primarily a lower socio- economic community of learners in an urban setting. The parent representatives on the consultative council have asked for your opinion on the efficacy of establishing single gender classes within the middle schools in the district. They ask you to come to the next meeting prepared to discuss your position on this topic. They also ask that you present them with a written position statement for their reflection after your verbal presentation.
Submit your written position statement to me.
Sample article that can help with reaction paper below
La. School Segregates Sexes to Boost Work
By The Associated Press
Alexandria, La.
To try to improve student achievement at her low-performing school, Arthur F. Smith Middle Magnet School Principal Norvella Williams was willing to try "anything and everything" for the new school year.
That included separating boys and girls into separate classrooms.
Some parents and even some of her staff viewed having sex-segregated classrooms as a "crazy" idea, but Williams implemented the plan for the new school year, and so far it’s showing positive results.
"I thought it was crazy, I really did. I went in thinking, ‘She has lost her mind,’" seventh-grade English teacher Camille Shelfo said. A short time into the new academic year, he acknowledges he is quickly switching his views.
"The first day, I saw my boys like I never seen them before. They were focused, they seem to be more challenged, they take more pride in their work — it just blew me away. I’ve never seen anything like this," said Shelfo, who has been an educator for 23 years.
Compared to a year ago, he said, both behavior and school work seems better in the gender-separated classrooms.
Research has shown that single-sex classrooms, particularly with at-risk students, can improve achievement scores, Williams said. She cited various studies from the National Association for Single Sex Education.
According to NASSE, Louisiana has 10 schools, not including Arthur F. Smith, using the single-sex model, three of which launched segregated classrooms last fall in Shreveport.
According to one of the studies authored by Florida’s Stetson University, girls in single-sex classrooms performed 16 percentage points more proficiently than girls in co-ed classrooms at Woodward Avenue Elementary School public school, while boys in single-sex classrooms performed 49 percentage points more proficiently than boys in co-ed classrooms.
Williams said she faced some resistance from a few parents, who worried their children would lose in socialization skills. However, the cafeteria, schoolwide events and some extracurricular activities remain co-ed.
"A lot of people are afraid of change, but if the change is going to be for the best, why not go for it?" she said.
While it’s too early into the year to measure academic gains, she and her staff report about half the discipline problems compared to the same time the previous year.
That means the school is on the right track, Williams said.
Richard Dewees, assistant principal, said it’s a unique change for a unique situation as the school attempts to surmount the tough academic hurdle it been struggling with for years.
"Relative to the (discipline) data from last year, it’s totally a positive change. It’s new, so ask us again in January," Dewees cautiously said. Advertisement
In the meantime, officials said, they are optimistic that fewer discipline problems might be the first step in solving other issues.
Three seventh-grade students said they like learning in unisex classrooms.
"I like it because you can be yourself, I feel closer to boys than I do girls … sometimes boys try to impress them," Danny Prenell said, prompting a nod from classmate Joshua Dorsey. Both 12-year-olds noted they still get to talk to girls during recess.
In another classroom, 13-year-old Manahia Marzett said she wasn’t sure how the idea was going to work out, but now she is getting used to it.
"I am able to work better, instead of the boys talking about you and stuff like that," Manahia said.
The school is also adopting what is called a "block" model, which means students have 90-minute period courses as opposed to 45-minute ones.
In addition, from now on, school educators will now observe each other’s teaching methods and outcomes. Twice during the semester they will visit each other’s classrooms.
"If we do peer observation we compete with our peers, so that’s another way to try to get our scores up," Williams said.
Faith Lotts and her husband, Mario Lotts, said they welcomed the idea when they heard their children, a 14-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy, speak positively about the experience.
Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.