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The recent scenes at Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr.
Middle School may become more common in the coming years as a federal regulations change is expected to make it easier for public schools to experiment with single-gender schools and classrooms.
In the sixth-grade class, the boys are making robots — more than a dozen students stand around work stations and chat as they cut cardboard with scissors, or glance at comic books for inspiration.
Down the hall, a room full of girls is working — quietly and independently — on the same project.
The analysis, by Erin Pahlke of Whitman College and Janet Shibley Hyde and Carlie M.
Allison of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, also found "trivial differences" in performance in math and science between the students in co-educational settings and those in single-gender settings in controlled studies.
Sax predicts thousands more schools will join the movement once the Education Department finalizes new Title IX regulations first proposed in March 2004.
Any such study would be illegal in the United States; in the United States, federal statute 34 CFR 106.34 requires that any assignment to a single-gender classroom or school must be completely voluntary.
In the first study, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania traveled to Seoul South Korea, because in Seoul, students are RANDOMLY assigned either to single-gender or to coed high schools. Students cannot "opt out" of either the single-gender format or the coed format.
Single-gender schools have also fueled legal challenges.
The American Civil Liberties Union, a major opponent of single-gender schools and classes, warns districts against going down that route because they are likely to bump up against civil rights and education laws, including Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.