New study shows girls' school grads have an edge

 
Submitted by Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart
Updated 1/22/2019 8:37 AM
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  • A recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA identifies several key areas in which all-girls schools, such as Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest, are better preparing their students for success in college and beyond.

    A recent study by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA identifies several key areas in which all-girls schools, such as Woodlands Academy in Lake Forest, are better preparing their students for success in college and beyond. Courtesy of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart

Graduates of all-girls schools, such as Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, have an edge over their coeducated peers, according to recently released research data.

The Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles conducted a study that shows statistically significant advantages for girls' school graduates as they enter a college or university.

Commissioned by the National Coalition of Girls' Schools, "Fostering Academic and Social Engagement: An Investigation into the Effects of All-Girls Education in the Transition to University" was prepared by principal investigator Dr. Tiffani Riggers-Piehl, assistant professor of higher education at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, in collaboration with HERI.

This new data analysis is an update of a 2009 report, also published by HERI, which was originally conducted by Dr. Linda Sax of UCLA in association with Riggers-Piehl.

These two peer-reviewed studies, spanning Generations Y and Z, compare the self-confidence, academic achievement, political engagement and aspirations of girls' school graduates to their coeducated peers.

Based on the reported data, the researchers concluded that when compared to their female peers at coed schools, girls' school graduates:

• Have stronger academic skills;

• Are more academically engaged;

• Demonstrate higher science self-confidence;

• Display higher levels of cultural competency;

• Express stronger community involvement;

• Exhibit increased political engagement.

Specifically, the research report identifies more than 80 statistically significant differences that favor graduates of all-girls schools when compared to female graduates of coed schools. It also shows girls' school graduates rate themselves as more successful and engaged in areas where men have historically seen greater representation: science and politics.

Reflecting on the findings, the researchers noted, "These statistically significant results demonstrate differences in areas of critical importance in the 21st century for women as they enter university and beyond, thus emphasizing the contribution of all-girls schooling for women's success."

Preparing young women to tackle the world beyond high school is the sole focus at Woodlands Academy, Lake County's only single-gender school.

"Our belief that empowered girls can change the world is an integral part of who we are and how we educate our students," Head of School Meg Steele said. "The benefits of an all-girls' school do not come simply from separating girls from the boys, but from the ability of a girls' school to focus entirely on the education, development and well-being of girls."

Barbara Keilwitz, who retired in 2018 as director of finance and operations, saw such advantages firsthand during her 32 years at Woodlands Academy.

"All-girls education allows girls to be the center of attention," she said. "Everything that is done is for and about them. They are free to imagine, explore, question and grow in a safe, yet challenging, environment. I have witnessed the transformational impact that all-girls education here at Woodlands has achieved."

Students, such as junior Daphne Ricketts, also see the advantages.

"I feel more confident in a class with all girls," she said. "It's easier to speak out more and to be part of the discussion."

As recently announced, 41 percent of Woodlands' senior class have been named 2019-20 State Scholars by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in recognition of superior academic achievement. Those receiving this honor represent approximately the top 10 percent of high school seniors from 757 high schools across the state.

For information, visit www.woodlandsacademy.org.

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