Memphis public school splits students by gender, sees improvements

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -  One public school in Memphis has been splitting up students by gender, and they say it's leading to better outcomes for students.

Our sister station WKRG caught up with Booker T. Washington High School, who's administration made a change 10 years ago. They make boy-only and girl-only classrooms.

Principal Alisha Kiner says the learning gets down to the core of how children learn, without the pressure to impress or worry about who is paying attention to them.

"What we know from research is that girls will take more of a risk when boys are not around," said Kiner. She was introduced to the idea in 2006.

Jaquisha Gray was a part of the pioneer gender separation program. She’s now a teacher at the school.

"Our freshman year, Ms. Kiner called us in to the auditorium. She said you're going to be separated. You guys will be separated by girls and boys. We were like, wait, what?"

Kiner made a deal with Gray and her classmates—if they didn’t like the change, she’d reverse it second semester. Second semester rolled around and 11 years later the approach continues.

"We don't have any complaints," Kiner said. "We offer the same things on the girl’s side that we offer on the boys side so there's a great opportunity on both sides."

The school has seen a drastic improvement in graduation rates; from 53% to 90.5% in 2017.

We want to know what you think of this story. Would you be open to the idea of having your students' classrooms separated by gender? Join the conversation on the WHNT News 19 Facebook page or by tagging @whnt on twitter.