Our School Model
Coed Through Grade 5
At Ursuline Academy, we have created the ideal classroom environment for how children of every age learn best. During our more than 120 years of educating children, we have come to understand that co-education is important to the academic development of younger children, and a single-gender education is important from sixth grade through high school.
Years of first-hand experience, coupled with a recent examination of wide-ranging research have proven our philosophy is sound. Boys and girls at the earliest stages of development benefit by learning together, not apart. In Early Childhood and the primary and intermediate grades, children learn the basics of social and group dynamics while also developing their own individual personalities and preferences. At this crucial time in their education, they also lay the foundation for their views regarding gender differences and are exposed to the different learning styles boys and girls exhibit in both social and academic situations.
Boys tend to have more development in certain areas of the right hemisphere of the brain, providing them with better spatial abilities, while girls’ development in the left hemisphere can give them better verbal abilities. Because of these differences, boys and girls choose activities based on their natural tendencies. At a time when brain development is crucial, both boys and girls may benefit from choosing “against-the-grain gender experiences,” as one researcher calls it, to help create a well-balanced brain and one that is better equipped to handle the range of tasks and challenges a person will face throughout life. Co-educational experiences, like those offered at Ursuline, from our Pre-K and Montessori programs through grade 5, give them this exposure and experience, which is key to future academic success.
All Girls Grades 6 Through 12
Ursuline Academy believes Middle School is the developmentally appropriate place to begin single-sex education, as the benefits at this level prove to have lasting effects well into college and beyond. According to a study from the Sudikoff Family Institute for Education and New Media and UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, graduates of all-girls schools have higher levels of academic engagement, with 62 percent spending 11 hours or more as a high school student studying or doing homework compared to 42 percent of co-ed graduates. The higher levels of engagement also translate to higher SAT scores, with graduates of single-gender schools achieving 43 points higher on mean composite scores than their co-ed peers. Ursuline juniors and seniors normally score higher on the SATs than all of their female counterparts in the state of Delaware.
The impact of an all-girls environment can also be seen in the academic interests of our students. According to the Sudikoff Family Institute Study, graduates of all-girls schools have greater confidence in their mathematical abilities and computer skills, with 48 percent rating their math ability in the “highest 10 percent” compared to 37 percent of their co-ed counterparts, and 36 percent rating themselves in the highest categories for computer skills compared to 26 percent of their co-ed counterparts. In fact, 65.7 percent of Ursuline Academy’s Class of 2014 plan to study math- or science-related majors upon entering college.
Further, graduates of all-girls schools have higher academic self-confidence, with 81 percent rating themselves in the “highest 10 percent” for academic ability, and greater interest in graduate school, with 71 percent choosing an undergraduate college in preparation for graduate school.
At Ursuline Academy, we strive to provide an environment in our Middle and Upper Schools that empowers young women, encourages their intellectual curiosity, and fosters active participation in the classroom. As we have proven time and time again, our all-girls environment coupled with our superior academic curriculum and vibrant school community creates female leaders who are intellectually, socially, and spiritually prepared for successful futures in college and beyond.