Writing today at carolinajournal.com, North Carolina Education Alliance fellow Kristen Blair weighs in on troubling numbers for young boys, and the lack of concern for their lack of achievement.
New 2012 SAT scores, released weeks ago, unleashed a fusillade of commentary about the state of American achievement. Many hammered the decline in reading performance; others celebrated the largest-ever pool of students to take the SAT.
Missing from the debate, however, was a close examination of entrenched gender differences among SAT test-takers; such differences offer important and counterintuitive feedback on boys’ achievement.
Scores defied conventional stereotypes: Boys outperformed girls not just in math, but in reading as well. Boys led by a little (five points) in reading, and a lot (33 points) in math. This year’s reading performance was no statistical fluke; boys have outscored girls in both reading and math for the past 40 years.
Such stable test-taking supremacy will cause many to conclude that all is well in boy world: that boys rule the honor roll, the Advanced Placement classroom, and the college acceptance letter. But they don’t, not by a long shot. Aside from their SAT prowess, boys trail girls on most in-school academic measures.
Consider what data collected by the College Board, publisher of the SAT, revealed about college-bound seniors. Girls were much more likely than boys to earn an A+, A, or A- grade point average; boys were overrepresented among students earning Cs, Ds, and Fs. Compared to boys, girls pursued more AP/Honors courses in English, history, science, foreign language, and even mathematics.
Top honors are going overwhelmingly to girls: 70 percent of high school valedictorians now are female, according to CBS News. And girls comprised 57 percent of 2010 college enrollments, federal data show; this gender imbalance is projected to increase.
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