[EDEQUITY Equity Now] High school boys lagging behind girls

From: Christina Perez (christina@fairtest.org)
Date: Tue May 21 2002 - 14:10:50 EDT

I wonder how much articles like the one below will change the face of Title
IX in the next few years. I'm glad the author talks about it not being a
zero sum game of females gaining in some areas at the expense of boys, but
fear most will not read down that far or will simply say Title IX is no
longer necessary.

Christina Perez, University Testing Reform Advocate
Web: http://www.fairtest.org
E-mail: christina@fairtest.org

Boston Globe
High school boys lagging behind girls, study says

By Anand Vaishnav, Globe Staff, 5/21/2002

Challenging long-held assumptions that fixing the classroom gender gap
requires catching girls up with boys, a study from Northeastern University
released yesterday suggests it's the boys who face deeper trouble.

Boys across the Commonwealth - especially in its 11 largest cities - drop
out of high school in greater numbers than girls, according to researchers
at Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies. The study also found an
even wider gap at the end of college, where 130 women at Massachusetts
colleges earned bachelor's degrees for every 100 men there.

The findings forecast grave economic and social futures for many
Massachusetts boys, said Andrew M. Sum, the center's director. Without high
school diplomas or some college education, they are less likely to find
well-paying jobs in an economy that demands skilled workers. They are less
likely to get married. They are more likely to be on public assistance.

Because this gender gap narrows considerably in affluent suburbs, the
state's urban school systems bear the heaviest burden of reversing these

''Young women are responding quite well to the educational system and doing
good work when it comes to staying in school, when it comes to
rates. The down side here is the future of young men as they grow older and
take their place in society,'' said Neil Sullivan, executive director of
Boston Private Industry Council, which was involved in the study. ''The
relative inability of young men to keep pace ... has extraordinary

Twenty-five years ago, as girls' college-going rates trailed those of boys,
educators sharpened their focus on increasing opportunities for young
As recently as a decade ago, the American Association of University Women
released a controversial report saying that schools consistently
shortchanged girls through testing and teaching methods.

The ensuing discussion prompted waves of changes: Offices started ''Take
Your Daughter to Work Day,'' and teachers have tried various ways to elicit
greater class participation from girls since boys tend to dominate
free-flowing classroom discussions. Two years ago, a study by the National
Center for Education Statistics found that the gender gap has mostly been
narrowed or eliminated, although girls still lag behind boys in science and
math achievement.

Specialists cautioned that the gender gap isn't a zero-sum game pitting
against girls, with one side's losing ground a sign that the other has
surged ahead. And men still earn more than women in comparable jobs,
have found. But yesterday's study shows that efforts to boost performance
shouldn't be limited to girls, some educators said.

''Paying attention to girls and boys means paying attention to gender. And
gender isn't just girls ...,'' said Susan McGee Bailey, executive director
of the Wellesley Centers for Women, housed at Wellesley College. ''We do
need to look at the teaching techniques we're using. We need to look at
materials we're using, and we need to look at the expectations that we hold
for students.''

Using Department of Education data for the Class of 2000, the Northeastern
study found that 48 percent of boys who graduated from schools in urban
areas were headed to 2- or 4-year colleges, compared to 62 percent of
For suburban students, the gap was 6 percentage points - 90 percent for
and 96 for girls. Statewide, 60 percent of boys were going to college
compared with 74 percent of girls.

In addition, about 31 percent of boys in cities drop out over their four
years in high school, versus 24 percent of urban girls.

Sum also found that 130 women in Massachusetts colleges earn bachelor's
degrees for every 100 men. It's a gap that has not closed nationally since
it opened in the 1970s, with women surpassing men's college completion

Sullivan called for changes in schools' approaches, especially in urban
schools, where boys slip through the cracks with greater frequency. For
example, boys are generally poorer readers than girls, so schools should
strive to find reading selections that appeal to each sex, Sullivan said.

That's what happens in Sarah Blanusa's classroom at the Jeremiah E. Burke
High School in Dorchester. As part of the Boston public schools' ''readers
workshop'' program, Blanusa gave students some leeway in choosing books.

The result: Both boys and girls have begun reading for pleasure more often,
Blanusa said.

''It's good for them to see male role models who aren't basketball players
or football players,'' Blanusa said.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 5/21/2002.


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