(July 31, 2007) The U.S. Department of Education recently expanded regulations for single sex education programs. Is single sex schooling really beneficial to students? What does the research say? Kathy Rigsby, assistant director of the Interwest Equity Assistance Center in Denver, takes a moment during a conference of the Association for Gender Equity Leadership in Education to discuss this issue that has sparked so much dialogue around the country. Kathy has worked with two desegregation assistance centers, one at Weber State University (Utah) and at Metropolitan State College of Denver (Colorado) where she served as assistance director. She has developed and published materials on Title IX compliance and on the prevention of sexual and racial harassment. Kathy is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity.
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03:20 Kathy provides an overview of single-sex education in the United States.
04:26 Kathy lists the provisions in Title IX in which single-sex education is permitted.
05:14 Kathy says religious and political preferences are largely behind the existing push for single-sex classrooms, in spite of a lack of educational research to support those preferences.
06:16 Kathy references a study that was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education and completed in 2005, saying research on the efficacy of single-sex education proved inconclusive.
07:08 Kathy notes that studies out of the United Kingdom, which has a long history of single-sex education, have concluded that it is not the presence or absence of single-sex education that determines student achievement. Rather, the overriding factors are the students’ socio-economic bracket, teachers’ expectations, rich curricula, and highly qualified and prepared teachers.
08:16 Bradley asks Kathy to explain why issues of equity, non-discrimination and protection of civil rights now seem to be “under attack” or given “deliberate and intentional attention.”
09:17 Kathy notes the importance of ensuring that civil rights gains in education not be wiped out “in the name of so-called single-sex achievement,” such as with African-American boys.
11:04 Kathy explains the “Hawthorne effect” and its place in single-sex education.
14:00 Kathy says that school officials considering single-sex programs in their districts should “take [their] time” and weigh all of the pros and cons. She also urges administrators and school boards to work together to develop appropriate policies around the programs.
15:10 Kathy expresses her strong preference for co-ed classrooms.
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