In a school district where the performance of young men ? especially black and Hispanic boys ? lags behind their female classmates, educators are always looking for ways to better reach this population of students.
Research has shown that boys learn differently than girls, thriving on such things as competition and hands-on projects that aren't always found in traditional school settings.
For this reason, the City School District this year is taking a new approach to reach the young men it is charged with educating. Last week it opened the Young Men's Leadership Academy, a new high school exclusively for boys. The school opened Friday on the Charlotte High campus with about 100 students. The new school is part of a plan to restructure Charlotte, which has consistently failed to meet state and federal education standards.
"We're trying to develop leaders and role models out of young men," said principal Wakili Moore.
The opening of the new school underscores a growing trend in public education ? single-sex classrooms. Once virtually unheard of, they are becoming more common. In 1996, there were just three single-sex public schools in the United States. Now, the National Association for Single Sex Public Education estimates there are about 100 single-sex schools, and hundreds more have classrooms that cater to one gender.
The push has been especially true in urban areas with pronounced gaps in the achievement of white and minority students, especially boys. The most recent study from the Schott Foundation for Public Education reports that just one-third of Rochester's black male students finished high school during the 2007-2008 school year, the 17th-lowest rate of the nation's 59 largest school systems. That compared to about 44 percent of their white male classmates.