Same Sex Classrooms in SWLA

March 13, 2007
Reported by Pam Dixon

Boys and girls, girls and boys. Put the two together and chances are something besides school work is on their minds in middle school. 6th grader Donovane Reed says, "Boyfriends, girlfriends, all that kind of junk." 6th grader Elexis Thomas says, "They're fussing. They're talking at each other and smiling at each other and staring at each other."

Whether you call it attraction or distraction, Jackie Roberts' classroom quickly becomes the battlefield for the battle of the sexes. Roberts says, "It's just amazing when you watch them in groups with boys and girls and then you watch them in groups with just boys or girls, it's totally different."

And different is what Reynaud Middle School wants to try to improve test scores. 6th grader Jacob Johnson says, "It won't be the same without having the girls."

Starting this fall, Reynaud will create single sex classes for its core subjects-- English language arts, math, social studies and science-- where test scores matter the most. Principal Ellaweena Woods says, "Doing our research, we found that single sex classes help the kids with their academic achievement, social skills and also their behavioral skills. We have a problem here and we want to solve it."

If you think junior high girls and boys can't live without each other, think again. A school wide survey showed a majority of Reynaud students agree those of the opposite sex are distracting. 6th grader Justice Hudson says, "I'm a student who gets attracted to boys, but when she told us that, I thought that's a good idea. I won't get distracted and I can get my grades together." Pam asks, "Are you going to miss the boys?" Elexis says, "No because some boys pick on me and I don't like that."

Reynaud girls and boys won't go cold turkey. They'll have opportunities to mingle during enrichment classes, lunch and PE.

Last fall the federal government gave local school leaders the discretion to create same sex classes or schools if they felt it offered educational benefits. Nationwide, at least 253 public schools offer single sex classes. Woods says research shows grade point averages are higher for girls and boys in classes separated by gender.