Public Education:

Issues Involving Single-Gender Schools and Programs

HEHS-96-122: Published: May 28, 1996. Publicly Released: May 28, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the major educational and legal issues involved with public single-gender education.

GAO found that: (1) single-gender educational programs are thought to reduce dropout rates and improve overall academic performance among urban males and academic achievement in mathematics and science among females; (2) single-gender settings are believed to reduce the distraction boys and girls create for each other, particularly during the middle school years; (3) some studies of minority students in private single-gender schools have suggested that both boys and girls improve academically in such settings; (4) the effectiveness of single-gender programs may be due more to students' and parents' motivation and commitment and small student populations; (5) some experts fear that single-gender educational programs will lead to unequal resource allocations and reinforcement of stereotypes; (6) some believe that training teachers in diversity and equity, creating smaller classes, and providing more individual attention would be just as effective in coeducational settings; (7) some public schools have terminated or modified their single-gender programs because of federal and state limitations on single-gender educational programs; and (8) the Department of Education has received numerous complaints regarding single-gender educational settings.

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