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Why Choose an All-Girls School?

An all-girls school can reach students more comprehensively and intensively with programs specifically tailored to meet girls’ needs.  While there are no innate differences in what girls and boys are capable of learning, boys and girls do develop and learn differently.  There are differences in the best ways to teach girls and our school is designed to meet their distinct needs.  Research shows that girls think, interact, display leadership, and make decisions in a way that is unique both developmentally and psychologically. Many studies indicate that the male-based model prevalent in most coeducational schools does not fit the way girls learn best.[1]

In traditional male dominated classrooms there is no seamless integration between teaching practice and the specific needs of female learners.  Even in the same classrooms, boys and girls receive very different kinds of education.  Studies indicate:

  • Teachers interact with males more frequently;
  • Teachers ask boys more complex questions;
  • Boys are praised more frequently than girls and receive more precise and constructive feedback;
  • Girls’ learning problems are not identified as often or as quickly as boys’; and
  • Girls do not see themselves reflected in the curriculum or learning materials.

In co-educational classrooms, teachers are frequently pulled to the more talkative male students.  Boys are taught more actively and directly while girls too often quietly fade into the background.  While boys thrive in loud, competitive environments, girls often do better in quieter classrooms, where collaboration is encouraged.  Noted researchers have concluded that from elementary school through higher education female students in coeducational schools “receive less active instruction, both in the quantity and in the quality of teacher time.”[2]

Despite prevailing notions that co-education classrooms would eliminate discrimination in teaching, gender gaps in some academic areas have increased over the last thirty years.  The proportion of girls studying subjects such as physics and computer science has decreased by half.

Our school’s focus on girls is based on a body of research that includes that of Dr. Rosemary C. Salomone who writes in Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single-Sex Schooling:  “…all-girls’ settings provide a certain comfort level that helps girls develop greater self-confidence and broader interests, especially as they approach adolescence.” She further indicates that single-sex schools and classes promote less-gender-polarized attitudes toward certain subjects – math and science in the case of girls. [3]

The National Foundation for Educational Research, commissioned to study the effect of school size and school type (single-sex vs. coed) on academic performance, studied 2,954 high schools throughout England, where single-sex public high schools are widely available.  The advantages of single-sex education for girls were found to fall into three categories: 1) expanded educational opportunity, 2) custom-tailored learning and instruction; and 3) greater autonomy.  Even after controlling for students’ academic ability and other background factors, both girls and boys did significantly better in single-sex schools than in coed schools.  The researchers concluded that girls’ schools are “helping to counter rather than reinforce the distinctions between ‘girls’ subjects’ such as English and foreign languages and ‘boys’ subjects’ such as physics and computer science”.[4]   In addition, schools of medium size, about 180 students per grade, fared best.  At smaller schools, there is a lack of course offerings especially at the advanced levels. At much larger schools, student performance appears to suffer.  This research strategically informs the programmatic alignment of Excel into three divisions: lower, middle and upper school.  These divisions will facilitate the culture of a small school environment while allowing for separation of students based on age.  As Excel Academy grows to full capacity, serving girls in grades pre-school through 8, the benefits of a single sex education will only continue to grow.

[1] Gilligan, C. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Cambridge, MA. Harvard UP. 1982.

[2]The Promise and the Peril of Single-Sex Public Education,” Education Week, March 2, 2005. 34-35, 48.

[3]  Salomone, Rosemary C., Same, Different, Equal: Rethinking Single Sex Schooling, New Haven: Yale U, 2003.

[4]The Promise and the Peril of Single-Sex Public Education,”  Education Week, March 2, 2005.