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A Single-Sex Education On A Coed Campus

Sacred Heart education is unique in Chicago in that it is a purposeful blend of single-sex and coeducational approaches. We are an all-girls school and an all-boys school, all on one campus.

    Video produced by National Coalition of Girls’ Schools. 

At Sacred Heart, we believe that self-confidence is built on a daily basis. Single-sex classrooms, when coupled with opportunities for boys and girls to know one another and work together, allow students to grow secure in their abilities and comfortable in expressing themselves.

Children start school together in our coed kindergarten, but beginning in first grade, move on to single-gender classrooms. While the boys and girls are in separate classes, they follow the same plan of studies and are exposed to an identical curriculum. Boys' and girls' classrooms are located close to one another whenever possible in order to facilitate interaction, including weekly shared projects at grade level.

Why Single-Sex?

A growing body of research supports what Sacred Heart has known all alongthat single-sex education offers both girls and boys supportive environments attuned to their individual needs, encouraging success in school.

Discussion flows more freely in a single-sex classroom. Students are more willing to take intellectual risks and gain from those experiences a greater self-confidence. Children are not narrowly defined by gender stereotypes in the single-sex classroom. Instead, boys and girls feel free to explore their full range of interests, from art and music to math and the hard sciences.

Beyond the classroom, boys and girls interact regularly throughout the day—in the halls, on the playground, in the lunchroom and during extracurricular and community service activitiesbenefiting from the positive socialization experiences available in a coed setting.

Single-Sex Facts
Use the drop down menus below to learn more about single-sex education. 

Academic Engagement

  • Students from single-sex schools are more likely to engage in group study. Within Catholic schools, this difference is 40% for Catholic single-sex graduates versus 34% of Catholic coeducational graduates.
  • Single-sex graduates report more time talking with teachers outside of class, especially in the independent school sector, where 37% of single-sex graduates reported spending three or more hours per week meeting with teachers apart from class, compared to 30% among women graduates of independent coeducational schools.
  • "Boys learn best by moving," says Jill Renn, boys 2nd teacher. "I'm a big one for getting the wiggles out! My boys can work at standing tables instead of at desks. They can sit on exercise balls rather than on chairs. Boys' minds will go quickly to a resting place if they aren't engaged."
  • Additional evidence of peer-based academic engagement is seen in the finding that nearly two-thirds or 65% of women graduates of independent single-sex schools report frequently or occasionally tutoring other students in high school, compared with 58% among women who attended independent coeducational schools.

Source: Women Graduates of Single Sex and Coeducational High Schools: Differences in their Characteristics and their Transition to CollegeResearch by Linda J. Sax, Ph.D, UCLA


  • Both boys and girls in single-sex schools enjoy a greater freedom from the pressure of gender stereotypes, therefore building self-confidence in their academic pursuits. 
  • 48% of female graduates of independent single-sex schools rate their math ability "above average" or in the "highest 10%" compared to 37% of independent coeducational graduates.
  • Boys feel free to follow their interests and talents in what might be regarded as "non-macho" pursuits (music, arts, drama) while attending single-sex schools. 
  • Women graduates of single-sex schools are three times more likely than their coeducational peers to state they intend to pursue a career in engineering.

Sources: Grads of All-Girl Schools Show Stronger Academic Orientations than Coed Grads, Research by Kathy Wyer, 2009, UCLA
National Association for Single-Sex Public Education, Advantages for Boys 

Future Success

  • Department of Education statistics show that men are less likely than women to get bachelor's degrees—and among those who do, fewer complete their degrees in four or five years. For many boys, the single-sex format can change a boy's attitude toward school from apathy to enthusiasm and energy that carries throughout their academic career. 
  • Women who attended single-sex schools are slightly more likely than those who attended a coeducational school to say that they are going to college to prepare for graduate school (71% to 66%) and to choose a college because its graduates are admitted to top graduate schools (45% to 41%).

In the News

Why Girls Tend to Get Better Grades Than Boys Do

Giving Boys A Bigger Emotional Tool Box

Why It’s Imperative to Teach Empathy to Boys

This Ad Asks What it Means To Do Something "Like A Girl"

Verizon Points Out the Little Things that Have a Big Impact on Girls in Math and Science

What Schools Can Do to Help Boys Succeed


Teaching Girls to Adopt a Growth Mindset 

The Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School discusses in this article the "growth" and "fixed mindset" of girls. 


The Truth About Gender Differences

The Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School 
explores that no child should be constrained by her/his gender and that all girls should enjoy the opportunities to boys, and vice cersa. 


April 21, 2009
All Girls – Better Grades

Marina Jiménez, from The Globe and Mail, reports on a study that says girls become smarter, more confident and career-minded at an all-girls school.


January 14, 2009
The Trouble With Boys

Author Peg Tyre provides an overview of the debate about why boys are falling behind girls' achievement in school.


September 1, 2007
The Boy Problem

Leonard Sax from the School Library Journal discusses all-boys' classes at public schools and private schools including Sacred Heart Schools. 



National Association for Single Sex Public Education

The Gurian Institute

International Boys’ Schools Coalition

The National Coalition of Girls' Schools

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