Newark tests single-gender classrooms
Approach may help improve tests scores, officials claim
By MELISSA KNIFIC
and MANDY SHUGARS
NEWARK -- Some middle school teachers in Newark are noticing a change in their students this year because of a pilot program that has been implemented in several classrooms.
The district is trying out single-gender sections of math, science, social studies, language arts and physical education classes in all three middle schools -- Lincoln, Roosevelt and Wilson.
"I think in the long run, it's really going to have an impact on student achievement, especially for girls, who sometimes get overshadowed because they're not always as forceful at trying to get noticed," said Sandra Justus, a seventh-grade math teacher at Wilson.
And that's just what Assistant Superintendent Dan Montgomery said the district hopes will happen.
Middle school math and science achievement scores were low this year as well as in the past, so the district has been discussing ways to boost them, Montgomery said.
Research pointed to single-gender classes. In addition, the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal education reform act signed by President Bush in 2002, supports single-gender classes.
Columbus public schools have tried it out and the feedback has been positive, Montgomery added.
Teaching both single- and multi-gender classes this year, Justus said she's seen more of a willingness in her single-gender class. The students also seem less self-conscious about having a wrong answer, she added.
"I think the kids seem more open to discuss their answer and volunteer more," Justus said.
Research shows students' achievement scores can increase between 20 and 40 percentage points when instructed in a single-gender class, Montgomery said.
The ultimate goal, however, is to raise the graduation rate. Projections show about one in five current freshman won't graduate from Newark High School.
The program is also being tested in physical education classes, where different areas of achievement are measured.
Physical education teacher Dean Somerlot hasn't heard any complaints from his eighth-graders about their all-male class.
"I'm really surprised. I thought I'd hear 'Where's the girls?," the Lincoln teacher said. "But it hasn't been that way at all."
Somerlot, a teacher for 30 years, said he can tell a difference in student's attitudes.
"Kids seem to be more receptive and aren't paying attention to the others," he said.
And without having any females to impress, he said the boys are much less defensive when it comes to being disciplined during class.
There have been "minimal concerns" about the program, Montgomery said, mostly from parents who didn't know it was implemented.
"People were feeling like they were caught off guard," he said.
Parents with children in single-gender classes at Lincoln knew about it, Montgomery said. At the two other schools, however, parents weren't informed.
If he had to do it over again, Montgomery said there should have been more communication with the parents.
But from what he's heard, students have been receptive to the idea.
"One (young) man said, 'I wasn't sure if I was going to like this, but this is a good thing.'"
Throughout the school year and into next summer, the district will evaluate the program. Montgomery doesn't believe the district would convert all classes to one gender because it finds value in gender socialization.
"We're teaching children about life," he said. "It's not our goal to separate boys and girls across the board."
girls are too distracting, man
Women should wear burquas too, cause they are too distracting.