A Comparative Analysis of Mathematics and Science Achievement in an All Girls School



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Background: There is continued emphasis on increasing student performance and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), particularly among women. One solution has been the establishment of single sex schools. Some research suggests that girls enrolled in single-sex schools perform better in mathematics and science than their counterparts who are enrolled in coeducational schools, but more research is needed, particularly on public single-sex schools. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the mathematics and science performance on the State Assessment of Educational Progress (SAEP) of eighth-grade girls in three schools in a large school district in Texas: a single-sex (all-girls) school and two co-educational schools from the same district. This study sought to determine if relationships existed between institution type, single-sex versus co-educational, and science and mathematics scores of eighth-grade girls while controlling for their race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Theoretical Framework: This study utilized the Expectancy-Value Theoretical Model to support the hypothesis that girls will have higher math and science achievement in a single-sex setting. The theory holds that individuals are motivated to behave based on the belief that they are able to accomplish the task of interest, that the task is enjoyable to them, that the task is personally or professionally relevant to them, and that completing the task will help them with future tasks or goals. Methods: A quantitative approach in the form of a nonequivalent group, post-test only quasi-experimental design was utilized in the study. This study utilized secondary data for eighth-grade female students from a single-sex school and two co-educational schools with similar demographic characteristics. The data included math and science scores, as measured by students’ SAEP student scores, as well as students’ eligibility for free or reduced lunch and their race/ethnicity. The researcher estimated two multiple regression models to determine the relationship between institution type and math and science performance of the participants, controlling for race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Findings: The results of the regression suggest that students who attended the single-sex middle school scored significantly higher than students who attended the co-educational middle schools in both math and science. Asian students scored significantly higher than all other races in both math and science. There was no significant difference in the math or science scores based on economic vulnerability status. Conclusions: The results point to the effectiveness of educating adolescent girls in a single-sex school in the areas of math and science. Also, the results lead one to consider whether educating students in a single-sex school can help close the educational achievement gap that exists among different socioeconomic groups. Future research should explore the relationship between single-sex education and non-cognitive factors as well as the long-term social effects of single-sex schooling on attendees.



All-girls, Single-sex schools, Mathematical performance, Science performance, Girls academic performance