Boys in one class, girls in another at more schools

Single-sex option grows, but some still skeptical

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“The most common reason is a failure to train the teachers,” said Dr. Leonard Sax, founder and executive director of NASSPE.

The needed changes in approach don’t extend to the curriculum. State standards dictate that the subject matter and basic concepts don’t change depending on the gender of the students.

Instead, the “strategies” of teachers change, according to Mr. Chadwell. He said South Carolina teachers, for example, develop more fluid lesson plans for boys, breaking up the session with various activities and discussions to hold students’ interest. In all-girls classrooms, he said, teachers can be more traditional.

Regardless of a teacher’s approach, Dr. Sax said most parents naturally have questions when a district implements single-sex classes.

Districts are wise, he said, to address their concerns as soon as possible, preferably with question-and-answer sessions with teachers and school administrators. States that have the most success with single-sex classrooms, he added, try to anticipate parents’ questions and concerns.

In South Carolina, for example, Mr. Chadwell’s full-time job is to travel from district to district, easing the fears of teachers and parents.

“Teachers are usually thrilled. Once they get a better understanding, they say this makes a lot of sense,” he said.

In the state’s latest annual survey, he said, more than 80 percent of parents said they were satisfied with the single-gender approach.

But some parents, Dr. Sax said, will simply never accept the idea.

“We’re not suggesting that every child should be in a single-sex classroom,” he said, “but we believe that every parent should have the choice.”

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