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Today's Urban Education Symposium looks at single-gender academies

 On Feb. 2nd, the fifth annual Urban Education Summit was held in Jacksonville focusing on the current state of the education crisis among boys of color.  This year's panel focused on the potential of single gender academies for closing the achievement gaps facing boys and, more specifically, boys of color.

Nationwide the number of public schools offering single gender education has grown exponentially over the past decade and a half, from an estimated four schools in 1999 to over 500 in 2011.  According to the FL DOE Office of Independent Education & Parental Choice's charter school directory, there are 10 public charter schools in the state of Florida currently offering single gender school or classroom environments.  In the graphic below, we highlight those schools and look at how their students are performing in reading and math compared to their districtwide averages for students at the same grade level(s).  In keeping with the focus of the Urban Education Symposium, we've included a specific look at performance among African American males in these schools. 

Click here to see data about academic performance single-gender academies in Florida.

Whats New -Feb 2013-Single Gender (Unformatted)

The results are typical of single gender academies nationwide: mixed, but with some noticeable high-achievers. 

This pattern is consistent with existing research showing that the establishment of a single gender learning environment,in itself, is not enough to spur tremendous gains.  Rather, that the key is taking advantage of the opportunity that single gender environments can provide for incorporating teaching methods based on development and learning style differences between boys and girls; for establishing a safe environment for students to experiment with learning without distraction or fear of embarrassment; and for fostering stronger relationships among students, and between teachers and students, that improve the learning environment.

So what are the high-achieving schools below like Franklin Academy in Broward County, or Bok Academy and Hartridge Academy in Polk County doing to take advantage of the single gender environment for optimizing learning that we could learn from as we bring new single gender academies to Duval?ng environment,in itself, is not enough to spur tremendous gains.  Rather, that

 the key is taking advantage of the opportunity that single gender environments can provide for incorporating teaching methods based on development and learning style differences between boys and girls; for establishing a safe environment for students to experiment with learning without distraction or fear of embarrassment; and for fostering stronger relationships among students, and between teachers and students, that improve the learning environment.

For more information, read the full  Urban Education Symposium report, with additional in-depth research on local performance and single gender education provided by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.