What if separating boys and girls in classrooms (by grade) lead to better educational outcomes and fewer discipline issues? Would you support that?
In a study published in May 2016 titled: The Effect of Single-Sex Education on Test Scores, School Completion, Arrests, and Teen Motherhood: Evidence from School Transitions boys and girls in Trinidad/Tobago, in 20 low performing schools, were separated by sex. The results? Significant improvement in outcomes. Here’s a synopsis from the article:
In 2010, the Ministry of Education in Trinidad and Tobago converted 20 low-performing secondary schools from coeducational to single-sex. I exploit these conversions to identify the causal effect of single-sex schooling holding other school inputs constant. After also accounting for student selection, single-sex cohorts at conversion schools score higher on national exams and are four percentage points more likely to complete secondary school. There are also important non-academic effects; all-boys cohorts have fewer arrests as teens, and all-girls cohorts have lower teen pregnancy rates. These benefits are achieved at zero financial cost. Survey evidence suggests that these single-sex effects reflect both direct gender peer effects due to interactions between classmates, and indirect effects generated through changes in teacher behavior.
The full article can be read at: https://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/docs/workingpapers/2016/WP-16-23.pdf
The author summarizes:
The results show that single-sex education can improve both boys’ and girls’ outcomes. Three years after being assigned to a single-sex secondary school, both boys and girls have higher
scores on standardized tests. Five years later, they are more likely to take and pass advanced courses. In the long run, both boys and girls are more likely to have completed secondary school and to have earned the credential required to continue to tertiary education. Importantly, boys are also less likely to have been arrested. Taken as a whole, the results suggest that being in the single sex cohorts improved test scores and also improved longer-run non test score outcomes such as advanced course taking, high school completion and engaging in criminal activity.
Note that these benefits to single-sex instruction were achieved at zero additional financial cost. The test score effect of 0.16 standard deviations is about as large as the effect of going from a teacher at the 6th percentile of teacher quality to one at the 50th percentile of teacher quality. To achieve equivalent results through increases in school spending, reductions in class size, tutoring, or other interventions would require a nontrivial financial outlay. The results of this study illustrate the potential cost-effectiveness of leveraging peer effects (both direct and indirect) to improve student outcomes (both educational and otherwise).
Would you be willing to try this in some US schools?