WXXI AM News

All-girls elementary charter school proposed in Rochester

May 4, 2021

Credit Max Schulte/WXXI News

A 10-member board is proposing an all-girls elementary school in Rochester.

The proposed Innova Girls Academy Charter School would focus on a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) curriculum for girls in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The board is also collaborating with Girl Scouts of Western New York to establish the school as the state's first Girl Scouts Academy.

That means all enrolled students would be Girl Scouts, and the organization's programming would be integrated into their school day.

"Our science classrooms will be using Girl Scouts science curriculum, and Girl Scouts will have daily leadership advisory periods where it will essentially be like a Girl Scouts troop meeting, where they're working through leadership and life skill badges during their school day," said Lindsay Swanson, the proposed head of school.

Swanson said the goal for the academy is to inspire Rochester's next generation of innovators and leaders by challenging stereotypes.

"If you are in a single-gender classroom and you are surrounded by other girls and you're learning about computer programming, for example, you can't say that this is something that girls don't do because when you look around you, there's girls who are doing it," she said.

Swanson cited a Goodman Research Group study indicating that women who attended all-girls schools are six times as likely to consider majoring in math, science, and technology compared to girls who attended coed schools.

But not all research supports the notion that girls benefit academically or personally from single-sex education. A University of Wisconsin meta-analysis of 184 studies representing the testing of 1.6 million students in grades K-12 from 21 nations found that controlled studies fail to show advantages over traditional coeducation.

Swanson said about 1,000 community members were surveyed to develop the school program, and survey responses are still being accepted.

If the state education department approves plans for the charter school, it would tentatively open for kindergarten and first-grade students in the fall of 2022.