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Florida Schools Segregate Classes By Gender

The Short of it

Is single-sex education the way of the future? Can we give kids a separate but equal education? Do we even want to? Children used to be separated at school by sex, now in some parts of the country, like in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., about a quarter of the classes are segregated by sex based on the belief that boys and girls learn differently.

The Lowdown

The boys' classrooms are masculine and covered in race cars and masculine images. The girls' classrooms are decorated in cheetah and pink princess print.

Angela Brown, the principal at Dillard Elementary in Fort Lauderdale, says that boys in single-sex classes have better attendance and test scores than those in coed classes. There has also been a drastic decline in disciplinary infractions and bullying.

"Boys are trying to impress girls, and girls are trying to impress boys," Ms. Brown said. "And we have removed that variable out of the way."

An external evaluation by a research firm found that after two years of offering single-sex classes in five schools, almost half of the students experienced a decline in disciplinary referrals, detentions and suspensions compared to the previous year.

A preliminary analysis of state test scores showed that about three-quarters of the students enrolled in single-sex classes improved their percentile rankings on reading scores, and 70 percent of the students raised their scores in math. Sounds like a win-win.

The Upshot

One student, Shenilla Johnson, a third grader at Charles Drew Elementary, finds the absence of boys helpful. She finds boys to be an annoyance and says that without them, "we get to learn new things." From the mouths of babes, right?

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