Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

BENEFITS BEYOND ACHIEVEMENT? A Comparison of Academic Attitudes and School Satisfaction for Adolescent Girls in Single-Gender and Coeducational Classrooms

Academic journal article Middle Grades Research Journal

BENEFITS BEYOND ACHIEVEMENT? A Comparison of Academic Attitudes and School Satisfaction for Adolescent Girls in Single-Gender and Coeducational Classrooms

Article excerpt

Educational institutions that cater to females have long been a part of the American education system, but single-gender institutions have historically been found primarily in the private sector (Cable & Spradlin, 2008). However, this changed in 2001 with the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. Since then, under the umbrella of school choice No Child Left Behind relaxed regulations regarding parent choice and same-sex schools, allowing public educational entities to create same-sex classrooms and school sites (Madigan, 2009). As a result, the single-gender education movement has gained momentum; according to the National Association for Single-Sex Public Education (NASSPE), in the 2011-2012 school year, at least 506 public schools in the United States offered singlegender educational opportunities (NASSPE, n.d.). About 390 of those schools were coeducational schools which offered single-gender classrooms as an option for some or all of the school day (NASSPE, n.d.).

Although a controversial topic, the advent of single-gender education may potentially be an important development for middle school educators and students-in particular, the possibilities regarding the emotional and psychological development of adolescent girls. While overall girls tend to perform better academically than boys (Tyre, 2006), there is research to indicate that girls often have difficulty with the transition to middle school due in large part to self-esteem problems and anxiety stemming from the pressures of social conformity (Grills-Taquechel, Norton, & Ollendick, 2010; Harter, 2006; Orenstein, 1994; Pomerantz & Saxon, 2002; Ryan, Sungok, & Makira, 2013). Ferrerio, Seonae, and Senra (2012) concluded that "girls outnumber boys in depressive symptoms, disordered eating, and the cooccurrence of both disturbances" (pp. 618- 619). Delfabbro, Winefield, Anderson, Hammarstrom, and Winefield (2011) report that during adolescence, girls express higher levels of dissatisfaction with body appearance than boys. These cumulative pressures create possible difficulties for girls in navigating the school social environment. The transition from elementary school to middle school is when many of these social difficulties begin to emerge (Powell, 2011; Rice & Dolgin, 2005; Van Hoose, Strahan, & L'Esperance, 2005). The nature of middle school itself may lend to this difficulty, in that most middle schools begin with Grade 6, forcing children to make adjustments to a new school, new peers, and new teachers at the same time they are also facing major developmental changes. Booth, Sheehan, and Earley (2007) reported that middle school girls are more negatively impacted by the middle school environment than either middle school boys or girls who attend a K-8 school. Given the documented difficulties facing adolescent girls transitioning to middle school, exploring the option of single-gender education as a remedy to ease these difficulties would seem to be a possibility.

THE DEBATE ON SINGLE-GENDER EDUCATION

Historically, the debate on whether or not single-gender education is both appropriate and effective has been fierce. In 2004, Rosemary Salomone observed that, "next to the funding of school athletics, single-sex education is probably the most divisive issue in the modern-day quest for gender equality in education" (pp. 63-64). This continues to be the case. As the number of single-gender public classrooms has increased, so have the number of detractors. While organizations such as the former National Association of Single-Sex Public Education (renamed in 2011 as the National Association for Choice in Education) vigorously advocate for single-gender learning, organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) work tirelessly against it (ACLU, n.d.). Critics of single-gender education argue any successes are not due to singlegender model, but rather of the composition of the students (usually with higher socioeconomic status) who attend many of the current single-gender programs in place (Bigler & Eliot, 2011; Patterson & Pahlke, 2011). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.