Girls Outperform Boys in Reading, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Big Kids, Research Reveals: Tweens

A book is a powerful tool in the classroom gender wars. Credit: Getty Images


The battle of the sexes isn't just for boardrooms anymore. Gender wars continue to play out in classrooms across the nation -- and girls appear to be winning when it comes to reading.

A new study by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) that analyzed data from standardized test scores from school districts across the United States, finds boys lag behind girls in reading proficiency by 10 percentage points. In reading, boys did not outperform girls in any state and in any achievement level -- whether it was the basic, proficient or advanced level.

However, the same study reveals that, when it comes to math proficiency, girls show more ability in some states while boys are equally competent in math in other states. According to the CEP, using the standardized test scores from fourth, eighth and 11th graders shows the reading and math results prove to be consistent in elementary, middle or high school students.

The CEP study notes that the test scores, compiled from 2002 through 2008, include "at least three years of comparable test data for a particular subject, grade and achievement level."

Taking the data from test scores provided by all 50 states, the CEP analysis indicates that boys' reading skills lag behind girls' in some states, but in math, there was no state in which either gender outperformed the other by such a large margin.

In a press release, the center calls the disparity in reading the "most pressing gender-gap issue facing our schools."

"Our analysis suggests that the gap between boys and girls in reading is a cause for concern," Jack Jennings, CEP's president and chief executive officer states in the release. "Much greater attention must be paid to giving boys the reading skills they need to succeed in early grades and throughout their education."

The CEP determined that from 2002, when No Child Left Behind federal legislation was enacted, through 2008, more states had improved reading and math scores than had lagged behind. In fact, 24 states have narrowed gender gaps in reading. However, the gap has widened in another 14 states, the CEP release says.

"Researchers and state officials might investigate ways in which the school environment may be changed to better address the needs of boys," the report concludes.

Related: Toys 'R' Us Chided for Reinforcing 'Outdated Gender Roles'

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