I’m a bit tardy in publishing David Chadwell’s response to Lise Eliot’s (author, Pink Brain, Blue Brain) article in Slate questioning the South Carolina survey on single-sex education, mostly because I didn’t see it in Slate.
As observant reader E Jones points out, however, Chadwell repeats his response in the latest edition of Gender Matters.
MY RESPONSE AS POSTED IN THE COMMENT SECTION OF SLATE. It is important to question findings. First though, this report is of a survey, not a study. It never was presented as a study. As the introduction explains, it was to take the pulse of those in single-gender classrooms. Yes, it would be great to have "hard" data. But, even the federal government doesn't want hard data - the regulations only require schools to "review" their data. No one is required to report their data. At least South Carolina is trying to gather something for educators (and others) to think about and respond to. Second, the 2005 report was conducted and published BEFORE the final regulations were put into effect in 2006. Hence, there are new requirements about single-gender schools and classes. What is needed now is someone to fund a study of the impact of single-gender schools and classes in the public sector. Third, interestingly, Lise Eliot herself suggests that single-gender classes can play a role for students, "Separate reading groups in school (on occasion) ... when teachers give children choices in their required reading, boys and girls may naturally form separate groups, which can give some boys the space to get absorbed in books without feeling outgunned by some of the stronger female readers in a class." page 203 Pink Brain Blue Brain by Eliot and "Single-sex lab groups are a solution in some cases, forcing certain girls into more active roles." page 247 Pink Brain Blue Brain by Eliot. You either think that single-sex options can be available and used within public schools (following federal regulations) or you don't. You can't have it both ways.
The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.