Some female students in rural Pennsylvania are more likely to earn good grades and aspire to attend four-year universities than their male peers, according to a recently released study.
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania began the longitudinal Rural Youth Education Study with researchers at Pennsylvania State University in 2004, with the goal to track educational, career, and residential goals of rural students.
Data were collected every other year from two groups of youths in 11 rural districts. The recently released data show the responses of the younger group when they were in 7th grade, and then in 11th grade.
In both 7th and 11th grade, more girls in the study earned good grades than boys. When the group was in 7th grade, 75 percent of girls received As and Bs compared to 65 percent of boys. By 11th grade, this gap had widened slightly, with 74 percent of females receiving As and Bs, compared to 61 percent of males.
As the group of students aged, the girls in the study were more likely to aspire to attend a four-year university, while the boys in the study were more likely to aspire to attend a vocational or two-year college. When the students were in 7th grade, 68 percent of females and 57 percent of males said they wanted to attend a four-year college. By eleventh grade, 75 percent of females said they wanted to attend a four-year college, while the percent of boys remained stagnant at 57 percent. Between 7th and 11th grade, the percentage of boys aspiring to attend a vocational or two-year college increased from 15 percent to 24 percent.
The data also show that as the students aged, they became less satisfied with their communities. In 7th grade, 48 percent of females and 45 percent of males said they liked living in their community. By 11th grade, both percentages had dropped, to 28 percent of females and 31 percent of males.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.