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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's now a district wide initiative, single gender classrooms. Duval County Public Schools Superintendent is planning a bold move. This time next year we could see an all girls and all boys school within DCPS.

Inside of Ms. Debra Downey's 6th grade math class at Matthew Gilbert Middle you'll find students with their hands raised high, eager to answer questions. But there's something different about her classroom, it's filled with all girls.

Matthew Gilbert Middle is one of five secondary schools within the Duval County Public School System that has gender based classes. The idea is to separate boys and girls, alleviate the distractions, and proponents are hopeful that will equal better grades. Downey says she's seen the difference single gender classes makes.

"Kids were less confident because they did not want their peers to know perhaps they needed extra help or they didn't know something," said Debra Downey. "So they were not as likely to raise their hands to get help."


The district was recently denied a grant to develop single gender college prep academies. But Superintendent Nikolai Vitti has high hopes for this method he once implemented as a principal at a Miami Middle School years ago.

"We have to inspire and energize kids about learning and that means doing things differently sometimes," said Vitti.

At the end of this school year the Superintendent plans to take a look at students' GPA's, school performance, and the suspension rates to see if dividing will ultimately help students to conquer.

Today a bill was filed by two Miami-Dade Lawmakers. They're hoping to set up gender separate schools in several districts within Florida.

Parents do have the option of choosing not to allow their child to participate in same-sex classes.


Here's a list provided by DCPS of schools currently participating:

  • Robert E. Lee High School
  • Eugene Butler Middle School
  • Matthew Gilbert Middle School
  • Andrew Jackson High School
  • Ed White High School
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