The growth of single-sex schools: Federal policy meets local needs and interests


  • Katherine Cumings Mansfield Virginia Commonwealth University



Title IX, NCLB, single-sex schools, gender equity, school choice, ethnography, interpretive policy analysis, public-private partnerships


Changes to Title IX allowing the growth of single-sex schools have garnered media attention promoting the benefits of separating boys and girls. Alternately, civil rights groups such as the ACLU continue to oppose any type of school segregation. Within this context, a private philanthropy, the Foundation for the Education of Young Women (FEYW) has established public-private partnerships with six Texas school districts to open all-girls’ public college prep magnet schools with plans to expand. This multi-year ethno-historical case study explores the meaning making of one community in the FEYW network as it attempts to make sense of federal policy at the local level. The topic is important to the field of education because it is timely: changes to Title IX and the growth in single-sex arrangements pose interesting legal and sociological questions about equity and justice since it links Title IX (an equity-driven policy) with the choice provisions in NCLB (a market-driven policy). The significance of this study lies in the unique use of ethnography as interpretive policy analysis to show how local communities (re)interpret federal policy to better align with their personal values and more adequately address contextual complexities in their attempts to do what they believe is best for students.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Katherine Cumings Mansfield, Virginia Commonwealth University

Katherine Cumings Mansfield (PhD, The University of Texas at Austin) is an assistant professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University. Mansfield’s interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on the social, historical, and political contexts of education and the relationship of class, gender, race/ethnicity, and religion on educational and vocational access and achievement. Mansfield has presented at American Educational Research Association, National Summit on Interdistrict Desegregation at Harvard Law School, Legal and Policy Options for Racially Integrated Education in the South and the Nation at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law, and University Council for Educational Administration. Mansfield has published in Journal of Educational Administration, Journal of Research on Leadership Education, and Journal of School Leadership. In 2012, Mansfield was awarded the "Leadership for Social Justice Dissertation Award," sponsored by AERA's Leadership for Social Justice Special Interest Group and the "Selma Greenberg Outstanding Dissertation Award," sponsored by AERA's Research on Women and Education Special Interest Group for her dissertation entitled, "Troubling Social Justice in a Single-sex Public School: An Ethnography of an Emerging School Culture." Mansfield is a first-generation college graduate with 20 years experience teaching and leading throughout the P-20 pipeline.




How to Cite

Mansfield, K. C. (2013). The growth of single-sex schools: Federal policy meets local needs and interests. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 21, 87.




Most read articles by the same author(s)