April 02, 2004
A new federal proposal to relax restrictions on single-sex public schools and classrooms has sparked renewed national interest in the Jefferson Leadership Academies. The school made international headlines five years ago for converting to single-gender classes. Since the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Education, Jefferson has received phone calls from national news media, including CNN. The CNN story aired recently. It included interviews with Jefferson students, teachers and principal Helen Compton-Harris.
New federal regulations would make it much easier to establish single-sex schools. They would change the way the government enforces Title IX of the 1972 education act, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded programs. Only a few dozen public schools in the nation offer same-sex classes. Single-gender classes have been shown to reduce distractions and boost achievement for both boys and girls.
Jefferson in 1999 became the nation’s first public middle school to convert entirely to single gender classes. The school has regularly met or exceeded the state’s Academic Performance Index targets for growth. Most recently, the school doubled the state’s academic growth target. Jefferson’s successful approach to single-gender instruction is considered to be in full compliance with Title IX because both boys and girls at the school are offered equal educational opportunities.