Equity & Diversity Opinion

Significant Reports on Boys Reveal the Reality

By Richard Whitmire — March 12, 2010 1 min read
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Wednesday, the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy releases its 50-state report on how boys/girls are faring on state tests. The state tests, which are given every year to all students in certain subjects, have to be considered the gold standard of gender gap snapshot measurements. The results will surprise you.

As guest blogger for The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss’s blog in The Washington Post, I offer my take on what this report means.

To get the full impact of the significance of this report, I advise twinning it with the survey just released by MetLife on male/female academic aspirations.

Put the two together, and you have the full narrative. Roughly twenty years ago the trend lines of boy/girl academic aspirations veered in different directions. Boys’ academic aspirations slope gently upwards, while the girls’ slope looks like a mountain climb. That’s how you arrive at today’s campus gender imbalances, with 62 percent of associate’s degrees and 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees going to women.

The CEP report gets at the reason for the imbalance: steep gender gaps in literacy skills. In short, the world has become more verbal; boys haven’t.

At this point, we should be at the threshold of deciding how to correct these problems with boys. They are correctable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. As I argue in the Post column, political battles stand in the way of academic solutions that would steer more males in the the direction of higher education.

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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.