Gender gap points out area of opportunity

Last month, the Center for Educational Policy released new research findings on the performance gap between boys and girls in math and reading.  According to this study, “The lagging performance by boys in reading is the most pressing gender-gap issue facing our schools.”

The study looked at trends that had at least 3 years’ worth of data points, at fourth, eighth and eleventh grade.  While many states have made progress in narrowing the gap in reading, there are still areas of concern with as much as 10 points’ difference between boys and girls.

In Ohio, the results are better but still notable.  In math, the genders perform about equally, with 75% of both genders performing at proficient levels in fourth grade, 74% girls/72% boys in eighth, and 79% for both in eleventh.

In reading, however, there is a larger gap.  While 83% of fourth grade girls are proficient in reading, only 80% of boys are.  In eighth grade, girls remain at 83% while boys drop to 76%.  And in eleventh grade, 88% of girls tested proficient but only 82% of boys.  In addition to the absolutes, the study looks at trends and average yearly changes.

In the 2008-09 school year, Milford students overall did slightly better than state average:  for math, 87.4% of females tested proficient or better vs. 86.6% of males; for reading, the numbers were 89.6% of females vs. 84.4% of males.

The full national report as well as individual state profiles of achievement trends for males and females are available on CEP’s Web site,


3 Responses to “Gender gap points out area of opportunity”

  1. Mary Gallagher Says:

    I do not see these results as a significant enough of a problem to make such a drastic change as all boy/girl classes. Milford schools, aside from the Jr. High, achieved a rating of excellent with distinction. I would sanction such a sweeping change if we were a failing district but not so sure we should move in this direction without further info as to why Milford thinks the students would benefit. I do agree that boys need different motivation than girls, especially when it comes to reading and writing. Some PD in this area from reading coaches or a literacy consultant could make a difference.

  2. andreabrady Says:

    Mary, I agree – and I don’t think anyone in the district has any interest in moving to all single-gender classes. There is a committee looking at gender issues, with a focus on PD relating to gender differentiation and techniques to reach each gender most effectively.

    If there is interest and it can be done at no extra cost, I would be in favor of testing single-gender classes. I think some students learn better in mixed-gender classes, and some in single-gender. This would have to be offered as an option for those parents/students who want a class like this, and even if successful, it would still remain an option.

  3. Bill George Says:

    I am in total disagreement with one gender classes.

    In education today, we need to prepare our students to become productive members of this society as it exists, not as we manipulate it. We already manipulate the curriculum (as noted in other article regarding American History) and “teach to the test” instead of offering a well-rounded curriculum. There are things more important than getting the largest number possible on tests. Learning the social graces required in a mixed-sex environment is an important part of the educational experience. There are not many office enviroments where only men or only women work. In fact, women have been entering what have previously men-only occupations at an amazing rate. If we keep going down this path, we may find that if we chnage the lighting in the classrooms the kids learn better. Maybe if we have subliminal messages piped in at a frequency not aubilbe to the human ear they may learn better. Maybe we could pump some enriched oxygen into the room to get them more awake. Maybe we culd zip them up in large plastic balls and roll them from class to class to avoid the contamination of personal interaction with other students between classes.

    But then again, maybe we could just offer them an environment where they are offered an education by trained professionals, and they are EXPECTED to do all they can to absorb it. Teach them that work is a good thing; not something to avoid. Teach them that taking on tasks that seem impossible at the beginning and accomplishing them will teach them skills and give them pride in their accomplishments that will lead them to greater things in later life. Teach them to be responsible personally to work toward excellence, not artificially enrich the ambient environment and dumb dowm the curriculum so they can get good grades on a test.

    I know, I’m a dinosaur, but that’s how I feel. If we don’t expect great things from them, we certainly can’t hold them accountable. We should give them a learning environment where ecellence is rewarded and mediocrity is unacceptable. Dumbing down the curirriculum and providing an unrealistic learning environment is not the answer. Parental involvement, a strong curriculum, gifted educators, and setting high (yet achievable) standards is.

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