Date Approved

2-1-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership

Department

Educational Leadership

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum III, James

Subject(s)

Single-sex schools;Middle schools

Disciplines

Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration

Abstract

With the passing of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the levels of accountability that it has placed upon educators and school districts regarding student performance on standardized assessments, there has been a surfeit of initiatives and options to address appropriate prescriptions for academically ailing students. A potentially dramatic turnaround came in March 2004, when the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued proposals that permitted public single-gender schools and classes with few limitations. Additionally, within the past decade, the release of restrictions of Title IX, which originally prohibited the separation of genders, facilitated opportunities to implement single-gender schools and classes in an attempt to close the gender achievement gap and positively influence student academic performance. The middle school years represent a critical time for young teens. Middle schools have been blamed for the increase in student behavior problems and cited as the cause of teens' alienation, disengagement from school, and low academic achievement. Chenoweth (2007) described the middle school as the most challenging level of the school system. As their hormones begin to flow, students are unable to handle the changes in their bodies much less manage their academic vocation. The term 'crisis' is appropriately used when describing the predicament of urban middle school students. Duhon (2001) agreed that these disengaged and unmotivated students are usually at the bottom quarter of the class scholastically. Additionally, it is often their awful behavior that identifies them. The 42 participants consisted of 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Hopeville Community School. They were chosen using a simple random selection process. Data collection tools included parent, student, and teacher surveys, individual interviews, observations, and document collection. The study utilized a mixed research method and an analysis of the quantitative data was completed utilizing SPSS software program. An analysis of the data revealed that single-gender classes, to some degree, positively impacted students' behavior, self-efficacy, relationship with peers and teachers, academic engagement, and academic performance on district and teacher created tests. Findings also disclosed students' inability to obtain a level of proficiency on standardized assessment, however, growth models indicated individual progress made by 60% of the students. Nevertheless, the conjecture entrenched in the data demonstrated that student academic achievement was profoundly impacted by effective teacher classroom management skills, teacher display of empathy, level of expectation for students, and delivery of instruction. Positive and encouraging teacher student communication and interactions illustrating mutual respect between teacher and students were essential. Teachers' ability to show interest and concern for students created a trusting and genuine bond with them and in most cases students reciprocated. Establishing trust and making connections with students were crucial in the development of meaningful relationships.

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