ROCKPORT, Maine — The students in a boys-only third-grade class likely will mix back in with the girls and their other male peers next year.
The local curriculum committee plans to ask the school board to reintegrate the boys in Camden-Rockport Elementary School, according to Elaine Nutter, assistant superintendent for MSAD 28.
“It has been very positive for the boys in the classroom,” Nutter said. “As we look at the end of the year we will look at learning for all of these students. They have done very well and it has a very nice climate to it when you go into the classroom. We feel it’s been very effective.”
But, she said, “It was not intended to be a long-term program.”
By dissolving the boys-only classroom, next year’s fourth grade will be gender imbalanced.
The K-4 school tried the single-gender classroom when it saw that the third-grade class was going to have two-thirds boys and one-third girls. By separating out some boys, it evened out the other two classrooms and let teacher Steve Seidell try something new.
Parents were able to choose whether their sons would go into the single-gender classroom.
“I think the students have responded very positively to it and so did parents,” Nutter said. “It was well-researched. It was effective. But parents, teachers and the principal also didn’t want those students set apart on a long-term basis. They felt it was important for them to interact with their other classmates again. They want them to interact with all classmates — boys who are not in the program and girls.”
The school was curious about how this might work because this school year the kindergarten has more than 40 boys and only 15 girls, while the first grade is one-third boys and two-thirds girls.
Next year, the school will not try a single-gender classroom to amend the gap, Nutter said. Instead, it will create a combined first/second grade classroom to even out all the classes.
“The single-gender class for boys was partly addressing the need for male elementary students to have a male role model in the school. Like most elementary schools, most of the teachers are women at [Camden-Rockport Elementary School], so that need for gender role modeling is not the same for girls,” Nutter said. “The combination grade one and two class addresses a variety of needs of the school, including different class sizes from one grade to another.”
The school district’s curriculum committee’s recommendation will be brought to the school board at its May 16 meeting.