All-Girl Public High Schools: Improving Confidence and College Success

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All-Girl Public High Schools: Improving Confidence and College Success
Discover how all-girl public high schools are making waves in education, fostering confidence and enhancing college success among young women. This article explores the unique benefits of single-gender education, from creating a supportive environment free from gender stereotypes to offering tailored academic programs that empower girls to excel. Learn how these schools cultivate leadership skills, academic achievement, and a strong sense of community, setting students on a path to thrive in college and beyond. With insights from educators and success stories from graduates, uncover the transformative impact of all-girl public high schools on female empowerment and educational attainment.

While much of our culture minimizes fundamental differences between boys and girls, some schools embrace these disparities to create a more robust learning environment. All-girl public high schools may not be the norm in most school districts, but the existing schools appear to thrive. These schools cater to female students much differently than traditional co-ed classroom settings, and research indicates that the single-sex approach may have significant advantages.

Learning Differences by Gender

To understand the potential benefits of an all-female education, we must begin with an overview of the learning differences between genders. According to Scholastic, girls and boys enter school using parts of their brains quite differently. Girls use their left hemispheres in early grades to excel in writing, reading, and speaking. Right-hemisphere development helps girls tune in to the feelings of teachers and other students.

On the other hand, boys in the early years use their left hemispheres to recall important facts, while the right hemispheres are used for visual-spatial and visual-motor skills. This may, in part, explain why boys tend to excel in math, science, and geography in the early years, while girls perform better in basics like reading and writing. These generalizations do not always apply to all children, but they indicate essential strengths and weaknesses that tend to differ between the two genders.

When hormones start revving, they can also affect how girls perform in school. Michelle Russell, co-director of the Young Woman's Leadership Charter School in Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune that hormone surges girls experience by sixth or seventh grade may contribute to girls stepping back and allowing boys to take the lead in school. By high school, boys are more willing to participate in class and take on leadership roles.

This video explains why gender differences matter when it comes to teaching.

Benefits of All-Girl Schools

Myra and David Sadker, professors who conducted ten years of research at American University, told the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, "When girls go to single-sex schools, they stop being the audience and become the players." Students who go to all-girl schools have the opportunity to participate in activities unhindered, including sports, public speaking, and school government. The environment puts these female students at a decided advantage when it comes time to enter college and prepare for a career, according to the NCGS.

The National Youth Network lists some of the following benefits of all-girl schools:

  • All-girls schools often provide more positive female role models.
  • Learning takes center stage without social distractions.
  • Girls are encouraged to excel in "male" subjects like math and science.
  • Girls are more likely to take on a leadership role in athletics.
  • The learning environment is tailored to the unique learning styles of females.
  • All-girl schools can counter current culture by allowing girls to determine who they are without outside influences.

On top of the many benefits discovered from all-girl schools, statistics have also shown significant differences in the performance and potential of girls who attend these institutions.

What the Numbers Show

Studies conducted on single-sex schools frequently show that this learning environment is indeed advantageous to the majority of students attending them. The Bromley Brook School website lists the following studies:

  • A 20-year study conducted by Dr. Ken Rowe in Australia showed that boys and girls attending single-sex schools scored between 15 and 22 percentile points higher on standardized tests.
  • In 1995, 100 eighth-grade students in Virginia were separated for math and science classes. The study found that girls immediately began to achieve better when placed in a single-sex environment.
  • A 2001 study in Britain looking at 2954 high schools and 979 primary schools found that all girls improved their academic performance in a single-sex classroom, regardless of their ability or socio-economic status.
  • Recent studies of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging showed physical differences between male and female brains as they function, indicating boys and girls may require different teaching methods.

An Exemplary Example is the Young Women's Leadership Charter School

The Young Women's Leadership Charter School in Chicago is living the daily difference an all-girls school can make. This all-girls school just celebrated its 10th anniversary and remains the only all-girls school in the Chicago area.

According to school documents, 96% of the senior class graduated in 2009, and 89% were accepted into college. The numbers are impressive when one considers that 80% of this student population comes from low-income households.

All-girls' high schools may not be familiar, but the research backing their effectiveness is compelling, and their popularity is growing. Despite living in a society where gender differences are frequently diminished or ignored, celebrating those differences in school may be one solution for better academic performance and tremendous success afterward.

This video offers a look at Young Women's Leadership Charter School.

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