The Education Crisis Among Boys: All Hype?
> 6/26/2006 10:16:06 AM

Newsweek created conversation in the education community earlier this year with a cover story on the supposedly sorry state of school performance among American boys. The article made several disconcerting statements: the male/female balance on college campuses is shifting, boys are much more likely to be diagnosed with learning disorders, and they are losing ground to girls in standardized testing. From these observations they surmised that boys are in serious academic trouble across the board and that they need to adapt quickly before they fall further behind in the job market. 

A new study contradicts this seemingly bleak overview, casting doubt on the sweeping generalizations made in the Newsweek article. Using nationwide data collected over the past 35 years, the study finds that boys are actually performing significantly better than they have at any point in the past and that:

The real story isn't bad news about boys doing worse, it's good news about girls doing better.

It's true that boys from low-income families consistently test lower than other groups, but this is hardly a new development. And though girls still perform better in reading and writing, boys have gained several points on them since the study began in 1971. Boys continue the longterm trend of scoring higher marks in mathematics, and college enrollment rates are higher all around. Authors of the new study argue that the disparities between boys and girls are miniscule and that such reactionary debate threatens to overshadow larger problems in American education.

Instead of focusing on inevitable gender differences, the United States should look toward the universal goal of improving the state of education for students across financial, geographic, and cultural lines, particularly for the millions of young people enrolled in our public schools.

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