Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

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Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#1  Postby maiforpeace » Mar 18, 2010 10:51 pm

Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

By Amy Hetzner of the Journal Sentinel

Posted: March 17, 2010

Girls have bridged the gap with boys and now perform as well on state math tests, but boys consistently trail girls on state reading tests, sometimes by dramatic margins, according to a national report released Wednesday.

Jack Jennings, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Education Policy, which produced the report, raised concerns about what the findings mean about the education of American males, including in Wisconsin, where the results mirrored the national trend.

"In no state in the country are boys doing better than girls in reading at the elementary, middle or high school level," he said. "It is a clear and unmistakable trend."

The report examined math and reading tests given in all 50 states between 2002 and 2008. Only those states that had given comparable tests for three years in a row, including the 2007-'08 school year, were included in the report, which equaled 45 to 48 states at each grade level.

Researchers focused on differences in performance - both in actual scores as well as by proficiency levels - between the genders at the fourth, eighth and 10th or 11th grades.

What they found was that girls were doing as well or almost as well as boys on state math tests, an area where females once had lagged far behind their male counterparts. Boys, on the other hand, routinely lagged behind girls on their states' reading tests, by more than 10 percentage points on proficiency measures at the elementary level in six states.

In Wisconsin, the percent of boys who were proficient in math exceeded the percent of proficient girls by only one or two percentage points in the grades studied for the 2007-'08 school year. But they lagged behind girls by five to seven percentage points in reading.

"These data are new and are extremely important and need to be taken seriously," said Susan Neuman, a professor in education studies at the University of Michigan and former assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.

Neuman pointed out that historical studies into differences between girls' and boys' reading performance found that, while boys would start reading at older ages, they were able to catch up and even pass girls by the fourth grade.

The shift in reading performance raises questions about classroom changes that have taken place over time, she said. She pointed to an emphasis on storybook-type reading and a reduction in physical activity in elementary schools as two factors that could disadvantage boys, who tend to like to read more nonfiction and have energy that needs to be channeled into exploratory activities.

"I think we need to re-evaluate our curricula, re-evaluate how we are managing our classrooms," Neuman said.

Janice Kopfler, director of the learning center at Marquette University High School, said more attention also needs to be paid to the different type of reading comprehension expected at the secondary level than is taught when students are first trying to master the basics of learning in elementary school.

"As a school, we're seeing this as something we need to address," Kopfler said of her all-boys school in Milwaukee. "We're finding that just helping out at the lower level doesn't guarantee that the students are going to be successful at the upper level."

But Janet Hyde, a professor of psychology and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautioned against making curricular changes because of perceptions about gender differences. She has been critical about the move to create separate gender classes and schools based on such beliefs.

And she also said it's not time to stop worrying about the girls. Even though girls have caught up to boys in math performance - something that Hyde and her colleagues have reported in scientific articles - stereotypes that women can't succeed in math and scientific fields continue to hold them back from entering careers such as engineering, she said.

"We can't declare a job well done until we change the attitudes as well as the performance," she said.

That's something that resonates in Milwaukee Public Schools, which sees reaching them at younger ages as the key to getting more girls interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It's why the district is focusing on spreading the pre-engineering curriculum Project Lead the Way to all of its schools that serve the middle grades, said Lauren Baker, coordinator of career and technical education at MPS.

The reason is that, while girls are interested in science and technology in the elementary grades, they tend to go in other directions when it's time for them to think about careers, she said.

"We're still making a leap there between what we study and how the females will see themselves working in the world," Baker said.

"And it's our job as educators to start that younger."
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#2  Postby Weaver » Mar 18, 2010 10:56 pm

Unfortunately, it's somewhat of a self-reinforcing cycle.

Elementary education teachers often have weaker math skills compared to high school teachers (at least in the US) and tend to pass their discomfort on to their students. Since a preponderance of elementary ed teachers are female, a negative message is portrayed about girls' ability to do math.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#3  Postby Warren Dew » Mar 19, 2010 4:06 am

Only a matter of time now before the women figure out that us men are unnecessary.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#4  Postby Skinny Puppy » Mar 20, 2010 2:28 pm

One study! If life were to be only so simple and easy. :scratch:
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#5  Postby Emmeline » Mar 20, 2010 2:57 pm

From a 2008 article

Boys not better than girls at maths, study finds

According to new research published in the journal Science, the "gender gap" in maths, long perceived to exist between girls and boys, disappears in societies that treat both sexes equally. When girls have equal access to education and other opportunities they do just as well as boys in maths tests.

(...)

Researchers analysed data from more than 276,000 children in 40 countries who took the 2003 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) - the internationally standardised test of maths, reading, science and problem-solving ability.

Globally, boys tend to outperform girls in maths (on average girls score 10.5 points lower than boys) but in more "gender equal societies" such as Iceland, Sweden and Norway, girls scored as well as boys or better.

For example, the maths gender gap almost disappeared in Sweden, while in Turkey girls scored 23 points below boys in maths.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/200 ... chools.uk1
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#6  Postby natselrox » Mar 20, 2010 3:00 pm

Girls and maths! :lol:

On a more serious note, it surprises me to see that such a non-sense assertion arose in the first place.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#7  Postby Emmeline » Mar 20, 2010 3:03 pm

It arose because it has been the case that girls don't do as well as boys in maths. That's changing quite quickly now but only in "more gender equal societies".
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#8  Postby natselrox » Mar 20, 2010 3:15 pm

When we say that 'girls don't do as well as boys', do we mean that they lack the innate ability to process numerical data or that they have been shown to fare poorly in the exams (which may be due a host of other factors)?

Btw, can anyone suggest a good place to read about the ALU of the human brain?
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#9  Postby Emmeline » Mar 20, 2010 3:18 pm

The phrase "not doing as well as" usually relates to outcomes of tests/exams.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#10  Postby Mantisdreamz » Mar 20, 2010 3:22 pm

Growing up, I would definitely not say that boys were better at maths than girls. I have no set percentages or anything like that, but I'd say about 50/50. Maybe in high school there were more boys taking maths though. Maybe because jobs that require maths are more luring to men rather than women. Like, engineering. So, in high school they are forced to take the math courses more so, hence possibly becoming more apt at it than females?
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#11  Postby natselrox » Mar 20, 2010 3:26 pm

It could very well be that there is a neurological basis to the poorer mathematical ability of girls/boys. But unless we prove that to be the case, we'd like to err on the side of equality.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#12  Postby Emmeline » Mar 20, 2010 3:38 pm

natselrox wrote:It could very well be that there is a neurological basis to the poorer mathematical ability of girls/boys. But unless we prove that to be the case, we'd like to err on the side of equality.

Yes it could be but studies indicate that in "gender equal societies", boys and girls do as well as each other in maths tests/exams.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#13  Postby Segundo » Apr 12, 2010 6:52 pm

This is an international pattern among whites. There was a recent study released from Ireland and the pattern was found again! To my knowledge, this pattern isn't news.

EDIT: I don't know if it is the same in Chinese, Japanese etc so that is why I wrote "whites' above. Don't be offended folks.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#14  Postby Teshi » Apr 12, 2010 9:47 pm

Referring to reading: I've found that boys tend to be the worst and best readers, whereas girls fall in the middle. I think it's just the amount of practice they put in.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#15  Postby blackarmada » Apr 13, 2010 3:22 am

Warren Dew wrote:Only a matter of time now before the women figure out that us men are unnecessary.


Don't be obsure! We already are unneccessary, they're just keeping us around as playthings. :coffee:
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#16  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Apr 13, 2010 9:50 am

Topsy wrote:It arose because it has been the case that girls don't do as well as boys in maths. That's changing quite quickly now but only in "more gender equal societies".


But isn't testosterone correlated with linear thinking and female hormones more correlated with cooperation and networking type intelligence. :ask:
Not that I am against making opportunities for girls equal, but there may be natural limits. A non-supportive maths environment for girls would tend to exaggerate any mild genetic differences, and this is of course, wrong. Young, callous males can be taught to be more caring and sensitive. But there may be limits there too.

In personality, although there are "dare-devil" girls, it is boys who tend to take more risks. This is gender again, reinforced by culture. But boys do enjoy dangerous sports more than girls. [in general].

Males and females are equal, but different. So we can socially-engineer girls and boys to perform the same on everything perhaps. Ethically, I have no problem with it, and approve, so long as we realize that some gender inequalities may be natural.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#17  Postby babel » Apr 13, 2010 9:59 am

On another note, what could explain the linguistic gap between boys and girls? Do girls tend to read more, because boys are more interested in active pass times?
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#18  Postby Segundo » Apr 13, 2010 10:00 am

babel wrote:On another note, what could explain the linguistic gap between boys and girls? Do girls tend to read more, because boys are more interested in active pass times?
It's an inborn difference.
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#19  Postby babel » Apr 13, 2010 10:03 am

Segundo wrote:
babel wrote:On another note, what could explain the linguistic gap between boys and girls? Do girls tend to read more, because boys are more interested in active pass times?
It's an inborn difference.
Just to be sure: is this your opinion or does it say this in the article or any other source you might have read?
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Re: Girls bridge math gap, but boys lag in reading

#20  Postby Segundo » Apr 13, 2010 10:06 am

I read it in a book on human nature I believe.
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