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Single-gender classrooms improving behavior and test scores

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WACO -

It's a new way to approach discipline issues, single gender classrooms. Waco ISD is trying boys-only classes at one of its elementary schools and so far it has worked.

The pilot program at J.H. Hines Elementary is one of kind in Central Texas and school officials say it could be expanding soon. Students say it has been quite an adjustment, but they enjoy their new classes.

"It's my first time being in a all-boys classroom, but I like Mr. Webb he is like a good teacher to me. He teach me right and stuff," J.H. Hines 3rd grader Troy Galvin said.

The school district had noticed too many discipline problems at the school in the past and tried to find a way to fix it.

"Disruptive behavior, frequent office referrals...those kinds of things are stopping classrooms from functioning," J.H. Hines Principal Tra Hall said. "So we felt we needed teachers with specialized skills so that we can really work on growing those particular boys socially, emotionally, and psychologically."

Parents of third, fourth, and fifth graders at J.H. Hines were asked to volunteer their student to be a part of the program. Those kids then formed three classes of nine to 12 students large.

The small classes have not only addressed the behavior issue, where office referrals have gone down, but the student's academic scores have improved as well.

"Well we have seen interim growth in all of our benchmark exams with these students. And used some universal screeners for reading and math and that sort of thing," Hall said. "We have seen growth from these boys and it is not something we have seen from them in the past."

School officials have mostly gotten a positive response about the program from parents and are considering expansion.

In order to make the program work initially, the district needed to hire additional staff. School officials say funding would not be an issue if they want to expand this program, but finding the right teachers may be difficult.

"We got to find the right folks that understand the specialized needs of boys with behavioral, social, and emotional issues and some times that is pretty challenging to find," Hall said.

Thursday night the Waco ISD school board will meet for a workshop meeting. There they will hear about the results of this program and discuss whether the program will expand into more classrooms next school year.

To read Thursday night's agenda and get more information about the single-gender classrooms click here.

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