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Long Beach school to try same-sex classrooms

classrooms
A pilot program next fall will introduce same-sex classrooms at Long Beach's Jefferson Middle School

RELATED VIDEO
CNN's Jim Hill reports on one school's decision to try a voluntary same-sex classroom next term
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March 13, 1999
Web posted at: 5:32 p.m. EST (2232 GMT)

LONG BEACH, California (CNN) -- Almost any teacher will attest that when schoolkids have a choice about who to associate with, it's usually boys with boys and girls with girls.

Starting next fall at Long Beach's Jefferson Middle School, that will be official policy as a pilot program establishes boys-only and girls-only classrooms.

"It behooves us to do a much better job preparing these youngsters academically, so the luxury of being distracted by the opposite sex is something that may need to go away," said Carl Cohen, Long Beach's school superintendent.

The program will be voluntary, with room for 500 boys and 500 girls whose parents apply for the same-sex classrooms. It has won early support from some parents.

"I think it's really great because boys intimidate girls, (and) girls intimidate, you know, the boys," one parent said.

Some believe that girls will participate more freely in same-sex classrooms, particularly in math and science.

As one girl put it, "When girls are separated from the boys, the girls will not be shy."

The school district says it should know within a year of the pilot program if kids achieve more in single-gender classes than they do in mixed classes.

Research on the topic has yielded mixed results. A 1992 study by the American Association of University Women found reason to support same-sex classrooms. But in a later study, the AAUW concluded that single-sex education "is not the silver bullet to solving all of our educational problems."

Correspondent Jim Hill contributed to this report.


RELATED STORIES:
Study: All-girl schools don't improve test scores
March 12, 1998
Panel urges more separation of sexes during basic training
December 15, 1997

RELATED SITES:
American Association of University Women
  •  "Separated by Sex: A Critical Look at Single-Sex Education for Girls."
U.S. Department of Education
National Education Association
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