Detroit students finding success in single-sex schools

Parents like lack of distraction from opposite sex at single gender high schools in DPS

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DETROIT - It is not a perfect fit for every student, but two Detroit schools are finding success with single-gender student bodies.

Whether boys and girls perform better while attending a single-sex school has long been debated with no clear answer.   A study by the National Foundation for Educational Research concludes a resounding yes.  At Detroit International Academy for Young Women, there are no arguments about the benefits.

"You don't have that added tension of girls trying to impress the guys, you know, there's no competition," said Joann Johnson whose daughter attends Detroit International Academy.

Principal Beverly Hibbler helped open Detroit International Academy.  The school now teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"You have girls willing to take risks.  Do things like join the robotics team," said Hibbler.

Those are activities that most studies indicate girls are reluctant to pursue when in school with boys.

"We're all girls but we're just going to say we're all good at math and science because this is where we are this is what we know," said senior Kandis Johnson.

Not every student is an immediate believer of the single-gender school concept.

"At first I was like 'Are you serious? Are you kidding me?,'" said 12th grade student Tiffany Jones.  "I was like 'OK, I could do it for this year.'"

Jones will graduate this year and said she can't imagine going to school any place else.

Frederick Douglas Academy is the DIA's brother school.    One parent told Local 4  the idea of her son being able to go to class without the distraction of girls made the decision easy for her to transfer her son to Frederick Douglas Academy.

"He lost focus.  He was an A student that turned into a C student and that just wasn't good for me," said parent Dr. Kimberly Packer

The graduation rate at Frederick Douglas Academy is an impressive 79 percent, well above the level achieved by other Detroit Public Schools.  

What about social interaction, does a single-gender school deprive students of that?  Johnson said no.

"That's why you go to church, that's why are involved in these other activities where you can meet people. At school you have to focus on school," said Johnson.

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