Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Boys Will Be....

Article by C.H. Sommers, "The Boys in the Back"

Boys score as well as or better than girls on most standardized tests, yet they are far less likely to get good grades, take advanced classes or attend college. Why? A study coming out this week in The Journal of Human Resources gives an important answer. Teachers of classes as early as kindergarten factor good behavior into grades — and girls, as a rule, comport themselves far better than boys.

The study’s authors analyzed data from more than 5,800 students from kindergarten through fifth grade and found that boys across all racial groups and in all major subject areas received lower grades than their test scores would have predicted.

The scholars attributed this “misalignment” to differences in “noncognitive skills”: attentiveness, persistence, eagerness to learn, the ability to sit still and work independently. As most parents know, girls tend to develop these skills earlier and more naturally than boys.

No previous study, to my knowledge, has demonstrated that the well-known gender gap in school grades begins so early and is almost entirely attributable to differences in behavior. The researchers found that teachers rated boys as less proficient even when the boys did just as well as the girls on tests of reading, math and science. (The teachers did not know the test scores in advance.) If the teachers had not accounted for classroom behavior, the boys’ grades, like the girls’, would have matched their test scores.


Nod to Anonyman


Anonymous said...

And what was the gender of the teachers?

Dr. Tufte said...

Bear with me; I'll get back to the post further below.

I have a provocative and non-PC idea I've been mulling over.

I'm beginning to wonder if ADHD just sets in earlier in boys. Specifically, does it hit women in adulthood?

My motivation for this is the common complaint of adult women that they're overworked and overwhelmed, contrasted with the time-use studies that show that this really isn't so. Yes, women do work (broadly defined) a bit more, but I suspect that most of this is single mothers producing a skewed distribution when combined with the majority who actually work less than men.

Yet, many of them feel overworked and overwhelmed, and that perception is worth taking seriously.

One explanation is gender-dependent adult onset ADHD.

One symptom of that would be otherwise "high scoring" women who can't get the pay they might deserve. Perhaps this is because bosses value intellectual comportment that many men seem to master only in their late 20's and that girls excelled at when they were young ... and then lost.