The Los Angeles school board has given the go-ahead to open two all-girls high schools in the district in 2016.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) will be a charter campus, modeled on a school in Denver. It will serve grades 6 through 8, and target students in the Van Nuys, Panorama City or North Hills areas.
The second campus, Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA), will be a STEM-focused, district-run school housed at Los Angeles High School. It plans to open with 200 students in grades 6 and 9, and grow to accommodate 700 students in grades 6 to 12 by 2019-20. Before it can open, the district must receive a waiver from the State Board of Education to operate a single-sex school.
GALS: In the petition that GALS backers presented to the school board, they said the school "will provide a small-school learning environment predicated on best practices in gender-based and active learning for middle grade girls in the Van Nuys area of Los Angeles."
The Van Nuys area was selected because data indicated an achievement gap between schools in that area compared with other areas of the district. Test scores for nearby schools show "a gender-based achievement gap in the areas of math, algebra, social science and science."
The charter school has not yet found a site, but supporters hope to secure space on a district campus GALS proposes to open with 125 students and eventually grow to accommodate 375 girls.
GALA: The impetus for GALA, board documents state, is an achievement and participation gap between boys and girls in subjects related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Standardized testing data show that girls perform at the same level or above boys in math and science while in elementary school.
"However, their scores on standardized tests in math and science decline as they progress to middle school and high school," the document states. "...GALA’s single-gender admissions policy is designed to reduce the achievement and participation gap between male students and female students in STEM areas."