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Texas Graduation Rates…A Sobering Reality
THE NEED: Texas Graduation Rates … A Sobering Reality: The Texas female high school graduation rate is dismal. Almost 30% of female students in Texas do not graduate high school.1 Dropout rates are even higher for minority students, especially Hispanic females. Recent studies show that a record number of Latina students are dropping out of high school. Nationwide, 41% of Latina students do not graduate within four years, if at all.2 This statistic is especially alarming for Texas considering that Hispanics are the fastest-growing population group within the state. By 2040, the Hispanic population is projected to triple in Texas’ urban areas.3 The future prospects of female drop-outs are grim as they face poor employment opportunities, poverty, and a reliance on public support programs.4 This cycle of poverty is perpetuated, as the children of drop-outs are less likely to graduate themselves.5
THE SOLUTION: Education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty for women in Texas. Research shows that an all-girls education has a significant impact on the academic achievements of young women.
- A study of almost 3,000 high schools shows that nearly every girl, regardless of her ability or socio-economic status, performed better in single-sex classrooms than co-ed classrooms.6
- Single-sex schooling helps to improve academic achievement especially for girls, with underprivileged children deriving the most benefit.7
- All-girls schools produce graduates who enter college more academically engaged than women from similar backgrounds who attend co-educational schools.8
- Students who attend single-sex schools earn higher SAT scores than their co-ed counterparts.9
- Girls are more likely to take courses such as computer science and physics in single-sex schools than in co-ed schools.10
- Since all-girls schools provide a strong focus on academics, teen pregnancy is not a significant issue or challenge.11
What is most noteworthy is the fact that the benefits of an all-girls education are evident regardless of the student’s ethnicity, family income, or parental education.
Twenty years ago, doctors and researchers didn't think so. Back then, most experts believed the differences in how girls and boys behaved were due to differences in how they were treated by their parents, teachers, and friends.
It's hard to cling to that belief today. An avalanche of research over the past twenty years has shown that sex differences are more significant and profound than anybody guessed. Sex differences are real, biologically programmed, and important to how children are raised, disciplined, and educated.
Studies on spatial awareness show that by four days of age, girl babies hold eye contact with their care-giver for longer than boys, while boys are already responding to movement and activity. Studies on vocabulary show that for every 20,000 words a girl uses, a boy uses between 7,000 and 10,000. Girls tend to learn verbal literacy at younger ages than boys, and boys tend to be more spatially and kinesthetically able at younger ages than girls. Biological and brain differences favor more boys than girls in gross motor abilities at very young ages.
Looked at from one perspective, it would appear that girls have it all today. Studies confirm that girls developmentally are generally more emotionally literate, verbally expressive, and socially facile than boys. At an early age, they tend to have good "school brains" that enable them to experience success in the school setting. They revel in relationship and emotional connectedness, the foundation of good mental health. In every facet of their lives, their choices have grown as society moves slowly toward gender equity.
Unlike girls a generation ago, girls have access to sports and educational programs that were once for boys only. In many other ways, girls' lives today are illuminated by freedom of choice and unlimited aspirations.
Girls are growing up in the company of girls and women whose natural talents are finding full expression in athletics, business, the arts and academia, and leadership and activism, as well as in family life. They see stay-at-home dads and corporate moms, and in countless other ways are witnessing transformations.
- A major study of coed and single sex schools reported that for girls in coed schools, the important issue in self-esteem was appearance; in all-girls schools, self-esteem was a complex product of school performance, social experience, family income and other factors
- Girls are more likely to take courses such as computer science and physics in girls-only schools than in coed schools
- The rate of teenage pregnancy is lower in all-girls schools than it is at nearby coed schools, both public and private, even in schools that were once coed and changed to a single-sex format.
- Students in low income families are six times more likely than their peers in high income families to drop out of high school.
"When we cheat students, we cheat the state of Texas.
We cheat the economy and we cheat ourselves, too."
- Irma Rangel
1 National Women’s Law Center
2 National Women’s Law Center and Mexican American Legal Defense Fund
3 Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
4 Alliance for Excellent Education
5 Alliance for Excellent Education
6 The National Foundation for Educational Research
7 National Association for Single Sex Public Education: Cornelius Riordan; “Girls and Boys in School: Together or Separate?”
8 The Sudikoff Family Institute for Education & New Media, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
9 The Sudikoff Family Institute for Education & New Media, UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies
10 The National Foundation for Educational Research
11 National Association for Single Sex Public Education