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Grads of All-Girls Schools Show Stronger Academic Orientations than Coed Grads
Press Release

April, 2009

Female graduates of single-sex high schools demonstrate stronger academic orientations than female graduates of coed schools across a number of different categories, including academic engagement, SAT scores, and confidence in their math and computer skills, according to a well-documented, national study by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute.

 

The report's findings reveal that girls' school graduates consistently assess their abilities, self-confidence, engagement and ambition as either above average or in the top 10 percent. Compared to their coed peers, they have more confidence in their mathematics and computer abilities and study longer hours. They are more likely to pursue careers in engineering, engage in political discussions, keep current with political affairs, and see college as a stepping stone to graduate school.

 

"At National Cathedral School we strive to educate a community of women who enter the world with the confidence, skill, and ambition to realize their potential and make a significant contribution," said NCS Head of School Kathleen O'Neill Jamieson.  "This report underscores the value of an all-girls education as fostering a culture that values academic achievement and makes such aspirations possible."

 

The new data from UCLA's nationwide study of women entering their first year of college reveals girls' school alumnae assess themselves stronger across the academic disciplines.  The following findings are statistically significant:

 

  • Women who attended single-sex schools tended to outperform their coeducational counterparts: Mean SAT composite scores (verbal plus math) were 43 points higher for female single-sex graduates in the independent school sector and 28 points higher for single-sex alumnae in the Catholic school sector.

 

  • 10% more girls' school graduates rate their confidence in math and computer abilities high at the start of college compared to their peers from coed schools. That is, 47.7% of women entering college from single-sex schools feel well-prepared in math, as compared to 36.6% from coed schools. A similar gap turned up when comparing computer skills: 35.8% of girls' school graduates report self-confidence versus 25.9% of their coed peers.

 

  • Girls' school graduates are three times more likely than their coed peers to consider pursuing a career in engineering; or 4.4% compared to 1.4%.

 

  • More than 80% of girls' school graduates consider their academic performance highly successful compared to 75% of women from coed schools. On the intellectual front, 60% of women from girls' schools report self-confidence, compared to 54% from coed schools.

 

  • Nearly half of all women graduating from single-sex schools (or 44.6%) rate their public speaking ability high, compared to 38.5% of women graduates of coed schools. A similar differential exists for writing abilities: 64.2% girls' school graduates assess their writing as high, compared to 58.8% women graduates of coed schools.

 

  • Women graduates of single-sex independent schools spend more time studying or doing homework, talking with teachers outside of class, tutoring peers, and studying with others. Indeed, 53% of independent girls' school graduates study with other students, compared with 45% of their coed peers, and 63% spend 11 plus hours a week studying or doing homework compared with 42% of the coeds. And 37% of girls' school alumnae spend 3 or more hours a week talking with teachers, compared to 30% among women from coed schools.

 

  • More girls' school graduates consider college a stepping stone to graduate school (71% versus 66% from coed schools) and 45% of women from single-sex schools (compared to 41% of their coed peers) choose a college in part for its record of alumnae gaining admission to graduate school.

 

  • Political engagement thrives in single-sex schools: 57.9% of girls' school graduates compared to 47.7% of their coed peers report they are more likely to keep current with the political scene and have political discussions in class.

 

As the UCLA study points out, girls' schools graduates rate themselves more successful and engaged in precisely those areas in which male students have historically surpassed them, such as mathematics, computers, engineering, and politics. The findings may undermine opponents of girls' schools, who argue that single-sex education accentuates sex-based stereotypes and widens the gender gap.

 

About the UCLA Study

 

"Women Graduates of Single-Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and the Transition to College," published by the Sudikoff Family Institute for Education & New Media UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, draws data from the annual Freshman Survey, administered by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. The report, which separately considers female students from independent and Catholic high schools nationwide, is based on a comparison of the responses of 6,552 female graduates of 225 private single-sex high schools with those of 14,684 women who graduated from 1,169 private coeducational high schools.  The findings were analyzed by UCLA's Dr. Linda J. Sax and her colleagues, draws on the large database housed at UCLA's Higher Education Research Instit ute.  The study was made possible by a gift from the National Coalition of Girls Schools.

 

The following supporting documents are available to all for downloading:

 

UCLA Full Report

UCLA Executive Summary 

 

Brochure on Research Findings

 



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