The report from the Center on Education Policy should set the data foundation for future discussions. The conventional wisdom about girls doing better in reading while boys excel at math needs to be set aside to make room for the new reality, of girls and boys performing the same in math while boys lag badly in reading skills.
Another myth that needs to be set aside -- that the gender gaps are really racial gaps. Open up the 50-state profiles and proceed directly to nearly all-white Maine, where you’ll find reading gaps as wide as you’ll see in any state.
The CEP report helps explain the education aspiration chart seen here on federal surveys. Why did female aspirations (compared to the boys) soar during that time period? Based on my reporting, boys came to believe that school is for girls, a result of the intensive reading curriculum pushed into the earliest grades that rewarded more girls than boys. A few schools succeed in teaching boys those literacy skills in the early grades; most remain oblivious to the need to adjust.
My take on the report appeared in The Washington Post. Unless the Department of Education launches research needed to guide local schools, President Obama will never reach his 2020 goal of having the United States rise to the top of international education attainment rankings. The gender gaps stand in the way.
Without that research, schools are also unlikely to make much progress reducing racial learning gaps. Look at the gender breakouts in any urban district -- the achievement differences between black boys and girls, Latino boys and girls, are as striking as black-white learning gaps.
The simplistic school accountability system we now use that focuses strictly on race and income also ignores the plight of white boys growing up in blue collar families.
Here’s a sample of the news coverage, from Ft. Worth. Considering the importance of this report, my first impression is that the news coverage is scant. Education Week does a nice job with the story.
The real impact of the report, I’m guessing, will come from setting the record straight about the facts. That’s a long-term impact. CEP deserves some thanks for giving us that data foundation.
The opinions expressed in Why Boys Fail are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.