Separating The Sexes

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 11:35am

Florida school considers same-sex classes as way to improve student performance.

The age-old debate over the pros and cons of single-sex education is now before Florida's Broward School Board.

Should boys and girls be taught differently?

Kim Martinetti, a reading coach at a Miami Dade public school, says she's seen single-sex schooling yield improved results.

She recalls the male students scored higher on the final exam and "they were more focused."

Single sex education is common in private and charter schools.

Miami Dade Public Schools offers two single sex academies.

Broward doesn't have any just yet but Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie wants to explore its potential benefits for Broward high school students.

"Parents will have to apply to the program," he says.

It would be an option for students and parents if they are interested but not a program that will be applied at all schools.

Supporters say single-sex schooling eliminates distractions and caters to the needs of each sex.

However, a study published last month by the non-profit group, American Council for Coeducational Schooling argues there is no scientific evidence that single-sex education produces better academic results and that it only reinforces sex stereotypes."

In addition, a national report released last year placed Broward Public Schools as the third worst
performing district nationwide when it comes to graduation rates for black males.

Superintendent Runcie says single-sex education improved those rates in his last city, Chicago, and for that reason, its worth a try.

"Urban Prep in Chicago had a 100 percent graduation rate and they all went on to four-year institutions and keep in mind, they were lagging two to four years behind," he said.

If approved, the school board would start with a pilot program with one or two single sex schools.

Most school board members seem enthused about the proposal.

However, there are no immediate plans for Broward public schools to implement a single-sex program.

School board members are continually exploring the potential benefits and also plan to talk with representatives of successful single sex schools, before the public can weigh-in on the proposal.

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