gender and assessments

Shevitz (
Wed, 3 Feb 1999 14:42:58 -0500

In Maryland over the last five years we have given state performance
assessments in grades 3, 5, and 8, in reading, writing, math, and science.
Consistently, for every subject at every grade level, and within all ethnic
groups (African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, and
White) girls are outperforming boys,often by large percentages. Gaps are
particularly high among African American and Latino populations. Some of
the differences may be explained by the fact that the tests rely heavily on
writing and cooperative learning tasks and that girls generally perform
better than boys on tests that are constructed this way.

  Is this phenomenon occurring in other states? I am looking for research
in this area, as well as for successful strategies that may have been used
to assist boys perform at higher level on assessments, particularly
performance based tasks (rather than multiple choice tests). As equity
advocates, we are concerned by the LARGE emphasis being placed solely on
these exams as a measurement of school achievement, but the reality is that
schools and teachers statewide are being rewarded or "punished" based on
these test results.

Please contact me via edequity or at Maryland State
Department of Education/Equity Office, 200 West Baltimore Street,
Baltimore, MD 21201. 410-767-0428; fax 410-767-0431. Thanks!

Linda Shevitz

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