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Single-Sex Programs: Resolving the Research Conundrum


by Rosemary C. Salomone ó 2006

In March, 2004, the federal Department of Education issued proposed Title IX regulations that promise to provide public school districts and charter school organizers considerable flexibility in establishing single-sex classes and schools. At the same time, however, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Department has called for "scientifically based" research to guide educational practices while the Supreme Court has ruled that state actors need an "exceedingly persuasive" justification for drawing distinctions on the basis of sex. The dramatic turnaround in federal policy and the seeming inconsistencies in the law have sparked heated debate that has plumbed the depths of gender, race, and ideology. Yet both sides concur that research findings supporting single-sex schooling are inconclusive. This article works through this conundrum, maintaining that social science evidence has far more to offer the debate than either supporters or detractors of single-sex schooling recognize. To validate that assertion, it examines data on academic performance and social deficits across gender and race as well as tentative evidence from existing programs. Based on these findings, the author draws the critical connection among program planning, implementation, and assessment and urges educators and researchers to explore a broad range of questions and methods both in their search for evidence to inform and guide program development and in their efforts to generate new findings that will prove instructive if not definitive in measuring the overall effects of these programs.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 4, 2006, p. 778-802
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12369, Date Accessed: 11/25/2014 3:38:48 PM

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About the Author
  • Rosemary Salomone
    St. Johnís University
    E-mail Author
    ROSEMARY C. SALOMONE is the Kenneth Wang Professor of Law at St. Johnís University School of Law and the author of Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling (Yale University Press, 2003) and Visions of Schooling: Conscience, Community, and Common Education (Yale University Press, 2000). She acknowledges the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation) for having granted her a fellowship to write the book on which this article is based.
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