Education relates to every family. Parents cannot avoid making decisions of choosing the type of education for their children. During recent years, single-sex education is becoming increasingly popular. Some public schools even offer single-sex classes such as math and science. Single-sex education competes with coed-sex education. Some parents do not know whether they should choose single-sex education or coed-sex education since they do not know which type of education is better. It is not surprising that parents do not know which type of education is better since the debate over whether single-sex education is better than coed-sex education never ends. People who embrace single-sex education think that students can become more confident while people who are against single-sex education believe that students may have gender stereotypes if they choose single-sex education. Until now, there is no scientific proof to analyze which type of education benefits students more. Each type of education has pros and cons. It is difficult to state clearly which type of education is better.
Based on students’ performance, people cannot conclude whether single-sex education is better than coed-sex education. When comparing the performance differences between single-sex groups and coed-sex groups, the results vary in gender. As Laster mentioned, “The Mississippi Curriculum Test shows that girls in single-sex groups and coed-sex groups get the same scores (100%) in reading” (Laster). There is no difference in girls’ performance in reading when girls are assigned to single-sex groups and coed-sex groups since girls are skilled in reading. Therefore, study environment in which girls learn to read does not affect their performance in reading . However, boys perform better in reading in single-sex groups. As Laster mentioned, “Reading scores of boys in the single-sex group is 97% while boys get 85% in the mixed group” (Laster). There is a huge reading performance difference between all-boys groups and coed groups. Boys may have more confidence in reading when they are in all-boys groups since boys are generally weaker in reading than girls. When comparing the performance differences between single-sex groups and coed-sex groups, the results also vary in subjects. Laster mentioned that ” Boys perform better in math in coed groups”(Laster). This result is different from boys’ performance in reading. Boys are generally better in math than girls. When boys are assigned to coed groups, they may feel that they have an advantage over girls in math. Therefore, they can make greater achievements in math in coed groups. Laster also mentioned that ” Girls’ math scores in single-sex group is 94% while their math scores in coed-sex groups is 92%”(Laster). Girls’ performance in math only changes slightly in two types of groups. For reading, it is better to have single-sex classes since boys’ reading performance is better in single- sex classes while girls’ performance remain unchanged in single-sex classes. For math, it is better to have coed-sex classes since boys perform better in coed-sex classes while girls’ performance change slightly in coed-sex classes. It is wrong to suggest that coed-sex education is better since boys cannot benefit from coed-sex reading classes. Reading is a girls’ subject in coed groups.
Students’ performance fails to tell people whether single-sex education is better than coed-sex education. Many people use students’ school success to weigh the quality of education. Unfortunately, it is hard to judge whether single-sex schools make students more successful than coed-sex schools . Children’s academic performance has no relation to the type of education they receive. As Gross-Loh said” Janet Hyde,coauthor of the 2014 study told her that parental education and income are the best predictors of children’s school success” (Gross-Loh). Children in low-income families are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than children in high-income families. The financial hardship may preclude poor families’ children from continuing education. Parents with high level education can motivate children to achieve academic success. As Hanly pointed out, “Parents with lower levels of education are less likely to have high expectations for the children’s academic careers. When parents do not have high expectations for children’s academic achievement, the children are unlikely to have expectations for themselves. “( Hanly ). As for myself, both of my parents got higher education. I always failed in my exams in high school; therefore, I lost motivation in study and did not want to attend college. But my mom expected me to attend college and accompanied me when I studied. Her action helped me regain my original expectation for myself. Some people may argue that students in single-sex schools perform well in academics. Those people do not realize that parents’ decision determines the type of education their children receive. Most single-sex schools are private schools. Only parents with high income can afford for their children to attend single-sex education. Since income determines students’ success, students who attend single-sex schools will achieve school success even if they go to coed-sex schools. As Gross-Loh believed,” Students in single-sex schools would have thrived, regardless of the environment they were in”(Gross-Loh). Students in single-sex schools have an advantage in school success over students in coed-sex schools. It is unfair to compare students’ school success in two types of schools since students in single-sex schools have better family background. Separating gender does not contribute to students’ school success.
The difficulty of conducting research on single-sex education decreases the probability of judging which type of education is better. Doing research on single-sex education requires people randomly to assign boys and girls to single-sex schools. It is impossible to do so. Students should voluntarily choose to attend single-sex schools. According to Gross-Loh, ” The methodology of conducting research on single-sex education is challenging. ” If researchers assign students who do not like single-sex schools to single-sex schools, the research results may not be reliable since students’ performances may be affected by their negative emotions of resistance. Generalization makes the methodology of doing research on single-sex education difficult. Arms considered that “. Most studies of single-sex schools compare schools for women with coeducational schools”(Arms). The methodology is wrong since all-girl schools cannot represent all-boy schools. Boys and girls are naturally different in academic performance. Another issue about generalization is that many studies only focus on specific single-sex classes. Arms wrote that”.Some single-sex interventions focused on helping girls in math and science “(Arms). When I search for some research about single-sex classes, almost all the sources I search focus on math and science. Few sources focus girls’ performance in reading and other language classes. The performance in math and science cannot be used to generalize all academic performance. Moreover, many studies of single-sex education fails to take counterarguments into consideration. Those who support coed-sex education believe that single-sex education causes gender discrimination. As Arms pointed out,” Few single-sex education studies answer the question that whether the single-sex education decrease sex discrimination”(Arms). Many researchers fail to analyze gender equity when they think about single-sex education.
Additionally, both single-sex education and coed-sex education have pros and cons, which makes it difficult to say which type of education is more beneficial for students. Girls are more motivated in single-sex classes. As Laster specified,”The science/computer teacher reported the girls in the same-sex classes are more open to ask questions and determined to make the highest grade on all tests”(Laster). In my previous academic years, when I saw some talented boys work out math problems very quickly, I lost confidence in working out the problems and my performance in math class was affected by my loss in confidence. If some boys handed in their papers very quickly,I sometimes blamed myself for doing papers slowly. Maybe those boys got lower scores than I; however, I would be distracted from my paper for a short period due to their action of handing in paper early.When I was in coed-sex classes, I was afraid of asking questions in front of the whole class since I thought some clever boys would laugh at me asking easy questions. Nevertheless, girls may feel more stressed when they are in single-sex classes. As Laster demonstrated,”For girls, the pressure to perform for students in the single-sex classes was very high”(Laster). This explains that girls’ performance in math is almost the same in single-sex groups and coed-sex groups.Although girls may become more open to answer questions and are more motivated to learn math in single-sex classes, they may not do very well in math because of the pressure from the same sex. Girls usually care a lot about what other girls think about themselves.Moreover, single-sex classes can help remove the distraction from the opposite sex. In adolescent years, boys and girls are easily attracted by the opposite sex. As Bradley said,”Students in single-sex schools may be less concerned about impressing the opposite sex and more focused on instruction”( Bradley ). When students always think about ways to make the opposite sex pay attention to them, they are less focused on their study. How can they improve their grades then? Carroll pointed out that teachers say that the number one distraction from doing tasks is the opposite sex( Carroll). Almost all people experience the time when they start to notice the opposite sex. It is a normal behavior. But if girls and boys are separated, they are less likely to be distracted by the opposite sex since the chance of communicating and interacting with the opposite sex is decreasing. Students in single-sex classes may have less problem of distraction from the opposite sex; however, less communication with the opposite sex brings some problems. Students may not know how to get along with the opposite sex if they are in single-sex classes. Single-sex classes separate gender. In the real world, it is impossible to separate gender. When students graduate from schools and enter the workplace, they cannot choose to work with same-sex colleagues. If they do not know much about how to communicate and work with opposite-sex colleagues, they may feel their jobs are challenging. As Gumede wrote,” Graeme Bloch,of the Wits Public and Development Management school said that separating people will not help reach gender equality and integration”( Gumede ). In today’s workplace, cooperation and communication play more and more important roles. Employers not only pay attention to professional skills, but also focus on the skill of integrating with people. Comparing a job applicant with high professional skill but medium -level communication skill with the opposite sex with another job applicant with medium- level professional skill but high communication skill, employers may choose the one with high communication skill. With the high skill of communication, the relative weakness of professional skill may be diminished. But the first applicant’s relative weakness of communication skill may be magnified in the workplace.
Both single-sex education and coed-sex education has drawbacks and advantages. However, more and more students attend single-sex schools. Some factors affect the choice of single-sex schools. Firstly, family characteristics affect the choice of single-sex schools. Students who have relatives that attend single-sex schools are more likely to attend single-sex schools than other students. As Valerie E. Lee and Helen M. Marks wrote,” Close to half of students in single-sex secondary schools have brothers or sisters who also attend single-sex schools” (Lee and Marks).When students have siblings who attend single-sex schools, parents may not want to risk trying another type of education.Parental religious belief also has influence on choosing single-sex schools. Lee and Marks also found that” A large proportion of boys in single-sex schools come from Catholic groups”( Lee and Marks). Since many Catholic schools are private single-sex schools, Catholic parents choose single-sex schools for their children.Students’ personal characteristics also contributes to the choice of single-sex schools. Students’ religious belief affects their choice of single-sex schools. As Lee and Marks said,”Students in single-sex schools perceive themselves as more religious than do their coeducational counterparts”(Lee and Marks). Since parental religious belief relates to the choice of single-sex schools, it is reasonable that students’ religious belief also has a relationship with the choice of single-sex schools because parental religious belief is always the same with students’ religious belief. As Lee and Marks pointed out”45 per cent of all-girl schools and 55 per cent of all-boy schools require students to attend religious service”(Lee and Marks). If an atheist wants to attend a single-sex school that requires attendance of religious service, the atheist may not choose that single-sex school. However, a student who has religious belief may choose a single-sex school that requires attendance of religious service because of the religious environment at that school. Moreover, students who focus on academics are more likely to choose single-sex schools. Some students who choose single-sex schools may believe that single-sex schools offer better education and have higher academic reputation. Last but not least, former academic experience plays an important role in the choice of single-sex education. Lee and Marks wrote that “A good proportion of students who attend single-sex schools have been in the same schools for their entire educational lives”(Lee and Marks).
Parental religious belief, personal religious belief and former academic experience relates to the choice of single-sex schools. It is interesting that there is gender difference in choosing the type of education. One gender difference is educational background. Lee and Marks pointed out that”A family tradition of single-sex education is especially strong for girls”(Lee and Marks). More than half of girls’ schools enroll K-12 students while less than half of boys’ schools enroll K-12 students. Girls’ education is more stable than boys’ education; therefore, girls are less likely to transfer to other schools. Moreover, educational background is also different for boys and girls, and educational background affects entrance exam. Lee and Marks found that”Boys and girls also differ on an
aspect of educational background that is important to their choice of secondary schools -entrance exams”( Lee and Marks). As I wrote in the previous paragraphs, girls’ academic performance is totally different from boys’ academic performance. Parents think about gender differences when they choose single-sex schools. Even in the same family, parents have different criteria to choose the type of school for their sons and daughters. As Lee and Marks pointed out,” families [may] apply different criteria in selecting a secondary school for their children. For boys, parents focus on academic achievement while parents focus on a safe social environment for girls”(Lee and Marks). Parents may care more about girls’ safety than boys. During teenagers’ growth, boys and girls have different problems. Therefore, it is wise for parents to focus on different things when they choose schools for their sons and daughters.
It is hard to weigh whether single-sex education is better than coed-sex education. Each type of education has advantages and disadvantages. Since doing research on single-sex education is extremely difficult, people cannot draw an objective conclusion about which type of education is better. Educators should not focus on debating which type of education is better. Instead, they should make effort to improve both types of education to meet students’ need. Generally, parents who have religious belief are more likely to choose single-sex education since many Catholic schools offer single-sex classes and let students attend religious service. For parents, before they choose the type of education for their children, they should do some research about both types education. Parents should realize that boys and girls are naturally different. Therefore, they should not set the same criteria for their sons and daughters when they choose the type of school. It is not a wise choice to follow the mainstream. Instead, parents should ask themselves what they care about and what type of education is the most suitable choice for their children. If girls’ parents are worried that their daughters may be distracted by the opposite sex, then they may consider single-sex education. If parents want their children to become more socially, then they may consider coed-sex education. If a girl is too shy, single-sex education may help her become more motivated in academics. Many parents may wrongly think that single-sex schools offer better education since they hear or see some children do very well in single-sex classes. If they do some research before they choose single-sex schools, they should realize that students in single-sex schools may do well even if they do not receive single-sex education. Those students who attend single-sex schools may have better family background than students in coed-sex school. Since family background has a big effect on students’ success. It is not single-sex education that makes some single-sex school students become successful. Parents should consider their children’s characteristic before they choose education.
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Carroll ,David. “Single-gender Classes Boost Scores at 2 Schools.” World Now. The World Now, 8 Nov.2013. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.
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