Does co-education matter?

A question from Yahoo! Answers:

Single sex schools VS. Co-ed schools?

There are schools that are girls-only or boys-only. What do think it would be like to attend a school like that? Would you like to attend a school like that? Are there differences in the way that boys and girls learn? How could students be taught differently at each school?

The truth is, no one knows for sure. Single-sex schools tend to be more successful academically, but this seems to be squarely due to the fact that they are well-funded private schools. When you compare them to well-funded private schools that practice co-education, the differences in academic performance disappear.

Research shows that the only thing that really makes a difference in the quality of education is the student and parent motivation. In the early 1980s, Chicago Public Schools practiced school choice by lottery; the subsequent research showed that students who enrolled in the lottery (i.e., those who WANTED to go to a better school) performed well regardless of whether they actually WENT to a better school. Data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study undertaken by the U.S. Department of Education in the late 1990s suggest that the differences in academic performance of elementary school students are attributable largely to parents’ income, parents’ education level, and mother’s age at the birth of her first child.

So my guess would be, it doesn’t matter whether the school is same-sex or co-ed; what matters is whether students want to learn, and that is largely determined by family…

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