Single-Sex Education


Research, Facts and Issues about All-Girls and All-Boys Schools


US 2008: Benefits of single-sex schooling: (1) Decreases distractions in learning, (2) Reduces student behavior problems, (3) Provides more leadership opportunities, (4) Promotes a sense of community among students and staff, (5) Improves student self-esteem, (6) Addresses unique learning styles and interests of boys or girls, (7) Decreases sex bias in teacher-student interactions, (8) Improves student achievement, (9) Decreases the academic problems of low achieving students, (10) Reduces sexual harassment among students, (11) Provides more positive student role models, (12) Allows for more opportunities to provide social and moral guidance, (13) Provides choice in public education.  This is a list from a US government sponsored study, Early Implementation of Public Single-Sex Schools: Perceptions and Characteristics, WashingtonD.C.

US 2005: The results demonstrate "a single sex school advantage by far," concluded Dr. Cornelius Riordan, director of the systematic review of research, sponsored by the US Department of Education. The study reviewed what it considered the 40 best studies in the world among 2221 published studies which compared single-sex education and coeducation.  The review "finds positive results are three to four times more likely to be found for single sex schools than for coeducational schools in the same study for both academic achievement and socio-emotional development."

Summary of Systematic Review of Research. US Department of Education 2005

England 2002: Both girls and boys performed "significantly better" in single-sex schools than in coed schools, was the conclusion of England's National Foundation for Educational Research  which studied 2954 English schools with a total of 370,000 students.

Australia 2001: Boys and girls from single-sex schools scored on the average 15-22 percentile ranks higher than children from coed schools, according to a 6-year study of 270,000 students from coed and single-sex schools conducted by the Australian Council for Educational Research. The study found that "coed schools are limited in their capacity to accommodate large differences in cognitive, social, and developmental rates of boys and girls." In single-sex schools, said the study, the curriculum is more demanding, the atmosphere more pleasant, and student behavior better.


In 2001, the US Senate amended a 1972 law that made coeducation obligatory in public schools and decided to provide $450 million dollars yearly in support of single-sex education. Thus the number of single sex public schools has risen from 4 in 1998 to 223 in July 2006 to 540 in June 2010.

For the past 12 years, the top 25 schools in Great Britainare single sex. The first coed school is number 26. Financial Times Ranking of Schools

Randomized experiment (the gold standard of research as it rules out other factors such as wealth) was made in Korea, because by law students were randomly assigned to schools in their district. Conclusion: positive effects of single-sex schools on four-year college attendance for both boys and girlsAll boys' schools 45% vs. boys in coed schools; 39%. All girls' school 44% vs girls in coed schools 40%.  Park and Behrman (2009)

To improve discipline, Thurgood MarshallElementary Schoolshifted from coed to single sex school, with the same students, teachers and curriculum in 2000. Discipline referrals dropped from about 30 per day to just one or two per day. "[In academics], our boys went from being in the 10 to 30 percent listing to 73 percent. They went from a reading average of about 20 percent to 66 percent. Our boys outperformed the entire state in writing. They went from being in a low percentile of 20-something to 53 percent in writing." Benjamin Wright, Principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School

[Single-sex education] is the most progressive idea in education. 21st Century education will be single-sex schooling. Cristina Hoff Sommers, author of The War against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (2000); resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

The choice for coeducation is the result of ideological [the feminism's radical equality of the sexes] and political reasons [an efficient way to school the baby-boomers] rather than a deep analysis of its advantages and defects. Jose Antonio Alcazar and Jose Luis Martos, "Algunas reflexiones sobre la educacion diferenciada por sexos" in Educacion diferenciada, una opcion razonable (2005)

We have seen many students start to focus heavily on academics. The boys no longer clown or try to impress the opposite sex.  Girls are more apt to answer questions aloud in class as well as ask them. Girls are learning to be more academically competitive, and boys are learning to collaborate.   Jill Rojas (2000), Principal of the Jefferson Leadership Academics, the first public middle school in the US that offers single-sex instruction for boys and girls

Thanks to new brain-imaging technology, we know there are indeed real differences between the male and the female brain, more differences than we would have imagined a decade ago. "The Math Myth," Time Magazine (2005)


Socialization with the opposite sex

The girls in coeducational environments continue to be victims of sexist violence. Le Monde de l'Education (2003)

I asked an 8 year old African-American girl why she prefers her school, a single-sex school, and she answered: I know that at the end of the day I won't get pregnant. Cornelius Riordan

It has not been demonstrated that coeducation contributes to better understanding and mutual adaptation between boys and girls. Rather it seems that, at least in some cases, it has led to an increase in gender stereotyping, conditioning boys and girls to enclose themselves in their own groups. A. Polaino-Lorente, "Coeducacion: un cierto riesgo," Revista Irabia (1999)

Incidence of Homosexuality

Homosexuality is not more prevalent in single-sex schools. Leonard Sax, President of the National Association for Single-sex Public Education, and author of "Why Gender Matters"

Better results due to wealthier students?

The [beneficial] effects of single-sex schools are greatest among black or Hispanic females from low socioeconomic homes. The US Department of Education Systematic Review of Research of 2005 had statistical controls for individual characteristics (socioeconomic status, individual ability, age), and school characteristics that might explain differences between single-sex schools and coed schools. Cornelius Riordan, Project Director of US Department of Education Research

Prepared by Dr. Raul Nidoy, Director for Formation, Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF): This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Version of 17 November 2011. First version: November 2007



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