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Research Shows No Advantage in Same-Sex Schools

Posted by Schooldays Newshound, on 22/02/2023. Research Shows No Advantage in Same-Sex SchoolsTags: Parenting Teachers

New research carried out at University of Limerick has revealed that that there is ‘no significant difference’ in academic performance between those attending single sex or mixed schools.

The major new study has found that, on average, there is no significant difference in performance for girls or boys that attend single-sex schools compared to their mixed-schooling peers in science, maths or reading.

The research, a joint project between Dr Darragh Flannery, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick and Professor José Clavel, Department of Quantitative Methods, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain has been published in the British Educational Research Journal.

The study used a large sample of nearly 5,000 15-year-olds from the 2018 Irish wave of the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) dataset to examine the association between attending a single-sex school and mathematics, reading and science literacy performance for boys and girls respectively.

The data is designed to examine what students can do with what they know in each of the three subject areas by testing how well they apply their knowledge in everyday life situations.
The dataset also includes extensive information about individual students and the schools they attend.

Dr Flannery explained: “The topic of single-sex versus mixed-sex schooling continues to be a source of debate within education policy in many countries, including Ireland. However, there is limited evidence around the relationship between attending a single-sex school and academic performance.

“In Ireland, relative to other countries, a high proportion of secondary school children - roughly one third - attend a single-sex secondary school. For this reason, the Irish educational system provides an interesting setting for exploring the outcomes of single-sex schooling.”
The analysis shows significant raw gaps in reading, science, and maths performance with pupils in single-sex schools performing better than those in mixed-schools. However, once the researchers applied a range of individual and school level factors such as the socioeconomic background of the student, the school student-staff ratio, the quality of teaching material available to the school and whether or not the school is disadvantaged, these gaps did not present as statistically significant.

It reveals, on average, that there is no difference in maths, science or reading performance for 15-year-olds after adjusting for the background of the student and other school-level factors and this result was found for both boys and girls.

“Our analysis shows no evidence of an academic advantage to attending a single sex school for boys or girls in Ireland,” explained Dr Flannery. “The differences we see in the raw scores seem to be driven by what is known as ‘selection effects’. In other words, the fact that children in single-sex schools tend to come from households with higher socioeconomic backgrounds who tend to perform better in school in any case helps explain the gaps we see in performance between the different school types.”

The researchers stress that the results are presented as associations rather than causal effects as there may be other unobserved individual-level characteristics that may impact PISA performance and be correlated with the selection of single-sex schools versus mixed-sex schools.

However, given the relative richness of control variables in the study’s data, the paper makes an important contribution to the existing literature on single-sex schooling and the analysis presented should prove useful to the policy debate.

“While this study is limited to looking at one type of outcome in academic achievement, future research may be able to explore the relationship between attending single-sex or mixed-sex schools and non-cognitive outcomes such as confidence levels or measures of well-being,” Dr Flannery added.

Information and news source: University Limerick News


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