Based upon media reports, many parents, students and even teachers believe that coeducational schooling is good for boys and bad for girls. Articles appear regularly in the popular press as a result of surveys of parents and students on the topic. Some are of the opinion that coeducational schools benefit boys, because girls have a "civilising" effect on the otherwise unruly behaviour of boys, especially in the early years of secondary school. In contrast, another perspective in favour of single-sex schooling for girls involves the view of many parents that boys distract their daughters from concentrating on their studies, so they prefer them to attend an all-girls school where they are not faced with this issue. In the past decade many single-sex schools in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom have been forced to amalgamate or accept students of both sexes for economic reasons. Their enrolments were dropping to a level which threatened their existence. Concern was expressed by parents, alumni and teachers that this change would have a detrimental effect on student achievement and school atmosphere. One solution has been to establish single-sex classes within coeducational schools. There is an urgent need to evaluate such innovations to learn whether they are cost-effective. This article examines the research evidence on the coeducational/single-sex schooling debate and will draw conclusions and implications for teaching and school organisation.
REVIEW OF RESEARCH
Coeducational/single-sex schooling comparisons are hampered by the problem of selecting equivalent schools of each type of gender-based student enrolment. In other words, because single-sex schools are more likely to be non-government, fee- paying schools, their students often come from higher socioeconomic backgrounds, with parents who are more directly involved in their education, than students attending coeducational...
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