Austin district may split 2 middle schools by gender

Nov 8, 2011 by

Austin school board members on Monday night discussed an $11.1 million proposal to house single-gender schools at Pearce and Garcia middle schools in the 2012-13 school year.

Boys would attend one school and girls would attend the other, though the preliminary plans did not specify which campus would hold which school. The schools, meant for grades six through eight, would serve 650 boys and 650 girls.

The two middle schools in East Austin would be placed into one attendance area. Middle school students zoned for the area who didn’t want to attend a single-gender school would probably be sent to Dobie or Webb middle schools.

“I’m a big advocate for it,” said Trustee Cheryl Bradley, who represents the area where the schools are. “If you look at schools like Chicago Urban Prep and other schools that are gender schools and how they are educating students of color, you would find them to be very successful. Data shows attendance goes up; teen pregnancy goes down; you see academics increase.”

The proposal, part of a larger picture to improve the district’s facilities, also includes draft plans for a kindergarten-through-12th-grade charter school that would be overseen by the district and be housed on two or three East Austin campuses.

Trustees won’t make a decision on any of the plans until December.

During Monday’s trustee work session, district officials pointed to supporting research that shows single-gender schools produce increased academic achievement, equity in curriculum and access to student opportunities.

Other research, including a recent academic paper co-authored by Rebecca Bigler, a University of Texas psychology and women’s and gender studies professor, argues that single-gender schools don’t improve academic performance any more than coeducational schools.

via Austin district may split 2 middle schools by gender.

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