New all-girls public school in LA implements strategy to boost math achievement

Less than 2 years old, an all-girls science-and-math school in Los Angeles is logging math scores significantly higher than its co-ed counterparts and already has a waiting list of 400 girls hoping to study at one of the state’s only single-sex public schools.

Girls Academic Leadership Academy, a district-run school in Los Angeles Unified that opened in the fall of 2016, saw 54 percent of its 6th-grade girls meet or exceed the state standards on the 2017 Smarter Balanced math test — nearly double the rate for girls districtwide and significantly higher than the statewide average for girls of 37 percent.

In addition, two-thirds of the school’s 9th-grade girls took Advanced Placement biology and nearly all sophomores took Advanced Placement chemistry or Advanced Placement computer science principles.

Because the girls may have been doing well in math before they came to the school, it’s impossible to know the extent to which their test scores are a result of their experiences there. But students and staff are enthusiastic about the results they have achieved so far, and believe that the school’s approach warrants replication.

Principal Elizabeth Hicks, who was the driving force behind the school’s creation in 2016, said she’s seen girls emboldened to participate more in class, raise their hands and ask questions.

“Girls say they’re not intimidated,” she said. “Before, boys might have made fun of them for asking questions in class. Here, they’re more likely to talk, to dig a little deeper. They push each other to go higher. … It’s been an amazing two years.” Click here to read more: