Education Experiment Keep Them Separated

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 1:11pm

Indianapolis high school segregates students by gender in effort to improve performance.

An Indianapolis high school is separating the boys and girls in an effort to improve academic achievement.

"Ain't nobody to argue with. Ain't nobody to play with, you are just focused on your education," said Iaunna McKinley, an Arlington High School senior.

That's a big step forward for an inner city school, where student achievement and discipline have been chronic problems.

Changing periods in any school are usually pretty tough times.

You have romance, you have drama and you have teenagers.

Things can get disruptive.

Students say the hallways are quieter, there are fewer confrontations and no competition for hugs, hand holding, and cell phone numbers.

"It is just chill. Go to your locker, go to class," said Tyla Richardson. As far as class without the boys, "there is no interrupting. It's just learning."

Principal Jethro Knazze came up with the idea.

"The light bulb went off. It did. You have nothing to lose. You really don't," said Knazze.

In a school where fewer than a fourth of students pass the state mandated ISTEP and End of Course Assessment exams, educators claim the separation of sexes is already making a difference.

"Believe me, we've been in the classroom. We've seen more engagement, more kids focused teachers doing a much better job instructing," said Knazze.

Even students admit there are fewer distractions, egos and fear, but more questions.

"Less people are scared to raise their hand and talk about a problem because they are not afraid of a girl thinking something is wrong with them or they are a nerd," said Kelsey Robinson, Arlington student.

Not everyone is a fan.

Some teens complain the new policy is taking too much of the fun of going to school.

Indiana's Department of Education isn't aware of any other public school that's made this switch.

Nationwide, researchers claim students can and do learn more in single sex classes.

Student achievement has been so persistently poor that Arlington is one of the IPS schools the state is taking over.

There's no indication yet on whether the program will survive next year.
 

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