Privately funded institutions that serve single-sex populations have long existed as an option for education for those children whose parents can afford the private and parochial schools that offer such programs. The debate over whether students in single-sex schools perform better on a host of outcomes has been a small portion of the education literature since the 1970s, when single-sex schools were advocated as a way to eliminate gender bias against women. In the late 1980s, the focus turned toward preparing and encouraging young girls for math and science careers, and other reformers began to suggest that single-sex schools could be used as a way to help boys develop positive attitudes and identity that would lead to more engagement with school.

The range of rationales about ...

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