May 19, 2000
Can single-gender classes boost student achievement? The nation’s first public middle school to convert to all-boy and all-girl classes reported significant achievement gains after the first semester of operation. At the Jefferson Leadership Academies, seventh graders raised their grade point averages from 2.27 to 2.72, up 0.45 points. The increase represents a 0.54 point jump for boys and a 0.38 jump for girls.
Formerly Jefferson Middle School, the Jefferson Leadership Academies opened last fall after a survey found hundreds of parents welcomed the idea. Since then, many parents have signed up their children on waiting lists to enroll at the school.
About 500 boys and 500 girls in grades six through eight participate in the single-gender classes, while lunch breaks and after-school activities remain co-ed.
In the eighth grade, girls raised their GPAs by 0.12 points to 2.89, and boys by 0.24 points to 2.32.
The achievement increases are statistically significant for both genders at grade seven and for boys in grade eight, which means the change cannot be explained merely by chance fluctuation.