Survey: Single-gender classes are successful, even amid cuts

By Brandi Cummings - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A new survey released Tuesday by the state Department of Education shows single-gender classes have a positive effect on a student's attitude and academic performance. But despite the growing popularity, many of the programs statewide have been cut.

At this age, girls and boys are like night and day. That's why according to the state department of education, the option of single-gender classes are a good idea. "It's exactly all the things that we say we want schools to do for our young people," said State Superintendent Jim Rex.

The single-gender program started at Columbia's Hand Middle School four years ago. "We thought it was a wonderful idea," said Erika Wider, who has two children who've participated in single gender classes.

Wider's son Jeffrey is in eighth grade. "It's a great way to learn new stuff and learn it in a different way," he said.

125 schools across the state offer the gender specific classes, down from 214 just two years ago. However, South Carolina still has more single-gender classrooms than any other state in the country.

"We're not spending this additional money just to create choice," said Rex. "We're creating choices to help our students success at a higher level than they have historically in the state of South Carolina."

According to a survey released Tuesday, self-confidence, participation, and motivation increased in students who attend single-gender classes. Girls said separating the sexes even creates unity and eliminates bullying.

Boys like the fact that they get to learn through things like history football. "We'll go outside and we'll throw the ball and it will be for timelines or people who've passed," said Jeffrey Wider.

Despite the students' excitement, budget cuts and the uncertainty of the next fiscal year threaten these types of programs. "What we need to do is to spend the money we do have, whatever that number is for this year or next in ways that are effective," said Rex. "If we spend a little bit of money to get a tremendous improvement or increase in student performance, that's a good investment."
The state has not been able to track the progress of the students in the single-gender program. Now, a new program will allow administrators to track the students using specific data instead of survey results.

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