In recent weeks, the big topic of discussion has revolved around bathrooms and whether or not there is value in limiting them to a single sex.

Although not as visible, another gender debate has been in the works for years. That debate has to do with whether or not there is value in separating the sexes in the classroom.

Scientists have examined this topic for years and come up with a variety of conclusions. But the latest finding suggests that separating the sexes can have a number of benefits – at a cost-effective price.

Published by Northwestern University, the study involved several disadvantaged public schools in Trinidad and Tobago that were transitioned from coed schools to single-sex institutions over a period of several years. The study found that the change improved test scores in a number of subjects for both boys and girls, providing the same benefits as students would have had in “going from a teacher at the 6th percentile of teacher quality to one at the 50th percentile of teacher quality.”

In addition to higher test scores, the study found that single-sex classrooms resulted in the following:   

  • Increased the tendency of students to take and succeed in advanced placement courses
  • Increased high school graduation rates
  • Decreased the likelihood of male arrests

The study augments earlier research that showed that single-sex education encourages better attendance, participation, and behavior in class.

Separating the sexes in school won’t solve every educational woe in the American system, but if there are empirical benefits such as those cited above, does single-sex education perhaps deserve a second look?