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New Leaf Academy - Why All Girls?

More and more research is showing that students achieve and learn better in single sex schools.

In a twenty-year Australian study of 270,000 students, Dr. Ken Rowe found that both boys and girls performed between 15 and 22 percentile points higher on standardized tests when they went to separate schools.

A 2001 British study of 2,954 high schools and 979 primary schools showed that nearly every girl regardless of her ability or socioeconomic status performed better in single sex classrooms than co-ed ones. The study concluded that single sex education was particularly beneficial to girls. Highest achieving students in this study were girls in single sex schools followed by co-ed girls, then boys in single sex schools and finally co-ed boys.

In a 1995 experiment in Virginia, 100 eight graders separated for math and science. The girls immediately began to achieve more, become more confident and participate more often in class.

Just within the past few years researchers have used magnetic resonance imaging to actually watch the human brain work. They have been able to observe physical differences between female and male brains as they function, particularly at high level tasks such as the SAT exam. Understanding these differences have led to using different kinds of teaching methods for each sex, which may partly explain why single sex schools work so well.

At all-girls' schools, girls learn in ways that are in keeping with the female learning style. They use teaching materials and textbooks without male bias. They are freer to participate in class discussions, which boys dominate in co-educational schools. They tend to gain confidence in themselves as students. They tend to score higher on their College Board and Advanced Placement examinations. There are many adult female role models and no favoritism of males. Girls no longer have to live up to expectations that they must be nice, quiet, non-athletic and passive.

In all-girls schools, girls take over all the positions of leadership in the school whether it's drama, sports, yearbook, or debate team. Students are more likely to continue in math and science and athletics. For example, 14% major in math compared to 10% of boys and only 3% of girls in co-ed schools.

Professors Myra and David Sadker spent over a decade studying sexism in classroom teaching. Two of their conclusions are that girls stay confident and learn more in single sex schools - "where girls are the players, not the audience."

Teachers were often stunned when they watched the Sadkers' videos of themselves leading their classes. Time after time the videos were clear evidence that teachers favor boys. The teachers were more likely to call on boys and then go on to reinforce, praise and encourage them. When a boy gave a wrong answer, a teacher would spend time to help him reason out the correct answer. However, when a girl answered, a teacher was likely to either respond with a bland "okay" to her right answer or simply to move on to another student if her answer was incorrect.

Boys were eight times more likely to call out in class without raising their hands and tend to dominate discussions. Boys were twice as often used as role models in class and five times more apt to get a teacher's attention when they raised their hands to recite. The older the girls were, the more likely they were to let boys take over the class.

Classroom teachers are more likely to teach a boy how to do things for himself, but take over tasks for girls, and not just in the primary grades. For example, the Sadkers record how a high school teacher took the time to show a boy how to put a disk into a computer. The same teacher just sighed in disapproval and took over the same task for a female student.

The American Association of University Women's study, How Schools Shortchange Girls, found that teachers learn boys' names more quickly. Ten years later, they are more likely to remember boys as the most brilliant students of their careers.

An all-girls school can create an atmosphere that counteracts the negative influence of mass media and its often troubling depictions of women and girls. Girls do not have to put up with boys brushing against them in a sexual way, bra snapping, unwanted kissing and fondling, and sexually explicit comments publicly posted on the Internet and in high school corridors and bathrooms. Some 90% of high school girls reported such harassment in a large 1993 national survey, Hostile Hallways, conducted by the American Association of University Women.

Women graduates of all-girls high schools and colleges report extreme satisfaction with their education. One-third of all female members of Fortune 100 boards graduated from all-women's colleges as well as 24% of the female members of Congress.

Single sex education has been illegal in public education since Title IX passed in 1972. Just twenty years later, only two public girls' schools were left. Despite all the research that shows both girls and boys benefit from single sex classrooms, organized political pressure prevents any experiments. Public school teacher unions are against "charter schools" (which can be single sex) and many feminists do not like an emphasis on sexual differences.

Meanwhile, applications and enrollment in private all-girls' schools have been soaring. Since 1991, student enrollment is up 29 percent in member schools of the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, applications increased 40 percent, and more than thirty new schools have opened.


American Association of University Women. "Hostile Hallways". Published by the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation and the Louis Harris Research, 1993.

Begley, Sharon, "How Men and Women's Brains Differ", Newsweek, Volume 125, Issue 3, Page 48.

"The Case for Girls’ Schools" The National Coalition of Girls' Schools, 2004.

Sacred Hearts Academy. "Educating Girls in the 21st Century Learners"

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