Are There Gender Differences in Achievement? Yes
The answer is Yes, especially for reading, according to the Center on Education Policy's latest study, which found that:
1. In math, there was no consistent gender gap in 2008. Rather, there was rough parity in the percentages of boys and girls reaching proficiency at all three grade levels. The percentages of boys and girls scoring proficient in math tended to be similar, with boys edging out girls slightly in some states and girls doing slightly better in other states. No state had a difference in math between boys and girls of more than 10 percentage points.
MP: Actually, the authors might want to check their math on this finding. If you look at the results by state for math proficiency at the high school level, you'll see that the percent of males with math proficiency exceeded females in 26 states, which is more than double the number of states in which females outperformed males (12). For the other states, there were either no gender differences (7 states) or data weren't available (5 states).
2. In reading, girls outperformed boys in 2008 at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Higher percentages of girls than boys scored at or above the proficient level on state reading tests at grade 4, grade 8, and high school; in some states, these gaps exceeded 10 percentage points.
MP: Actually, if you look at the reading results here, you'll see that girls outperformed boys: a) in ALL states, and b) at EACH of the three levels (elementary, middle, and high school). In 30 different cases, the gender gaps in favor of females exceeded 10 percentage points!
From the conclusion:
"Consistent with other recent research, our analysis of state test results by gender suggests that the most pressing issue related to gender gaps is the lagging performance of boys in reading. In many states, the percentage proficient for girls is more than 10 points higher than the percentage proficient for boys. Researchers and state officials might investigate ways in which the school environment may be changed to better address the needs of boys."
MP: For some reason, and I could be wrong, but I just don't think this will get as much attention as the underrepresentation of women in engineering doctoral programs, even though this involves millions of boys in every state and at every level of education. And I doubt it will be described as "a persistent gender gap that is a national crisis and one that will prove to be deeply detrimental to America’s global competitiveness."
Am I wrong or too cynical?