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Single Sex vs. Coed Education

June 27, 2011 / Posted by in Blog

(Written by Julia H.)

In 1881 the Dana Hall School was founded as an all girls school that would prepare women for Wellesley College. Almost 130 years later Dana Hall School still holds about 400 – 500 girls from 6th to 12th grade. Although girls are no longer sent straight to Wellesley following their graduation, there still seems to be greater and greater interest among parents to send their children to Dana Hall School and other single sex schools like it. Single sex education is often said to create a greater focus of students in the classroom and an increased willingness to participate among students, and it is undeniable that the majority of the students that Dana Hall School produces go on to be independent women leaders. But what are the fallouts of a single sex education like the ones the girls at Dana Hall are currently getting?

Independent schools, especially those with students of the same sex, can often have an agenda of their own. Often schools like that, which are nondenominational, can appear to promote diversity, while actually being closed-minded to outside opinions. Students who may not believe in things such as same sexual orientation, a certain religion, a certain political stand point, abortion rights or gender rights are made to feel not only different but also as if their opinions are wrong. Teachers are allowed to share their own viewpoints and sometimes it can feel like that is the only way to think about things. Furthermore, there can be a lot of behind the scenes action. Many school administrations will admit to things such as rigging a student president vote in order to have at least one male or female who isn’t white.

In 1998 a survey from the American Association of University Women admitted that girls from single sex schools did not show any academic improvement over girls from coed schools. In terms of monetary costs, the difference between going to a private single sex school and a coed public school can be up to $50,000 annually. At Dana Hall School, the tuition is $49,620 annually and the average SAT score was reported to be 1904. That’s a lot of money to spend on something that the American Association of University Women said does not necessarily bring academic improvement. If what you’re concerned about is the class sizes, you’ll be able to find the same class small sizes at a private coed school like Milton Academy. There, the average SAT score was reported to be 2065 and the annual tuition is around $4000 less than Dana Hall’s.

Furthermore, single sex education is not realistic in terms of real world experiences. For some men or women who have been actively involved in their schools for up to seven years it can be confusing and difficult to adjust to the way the world works with both genders. Not only that but also boys and girls in the classroom can be, in fact, a good influence on each other because they bring a variety of opinions and beliefs and a healthy, academic competitiveness to the classroom.


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