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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Boys lag in reading, writing

Three of four African-American boys in California classrooms failed to meet reading and writing standards” on state exams, reports Matt Levin for CALmatters. More than half of black boys scored in the lowest category, “below basic.”

Image result for black boys reading a book

Boys of all ethnicities and incomes did considerably worse than girls in reading and writing. Girls used to lag in math, but they’ve caught up to boys, test scores show.

The gender gap is widest between black boys and black girls.

“In states that administer the same standardized exam as California, girls outscore boys by similar margins,” notes Levin. “In international reading comprehension exams, girls best boys in nearly every country and at nearly every age.”

It’s not clear why boys are doing poorly in reading.

Several studies have shown that boys increasingly see school as a female pursuit and that various cultural cues depict reading and writing as feminine activity. But the consistency of the gender gap internationally and over time casts doubt on that explanation. In cultures as varied as Finland’s and Japan’s, girls still score better on standardized tests. Finally, many point to how schools are structured-a lack of sufficient recess to allow high-energy boys to blow off steam, reading materials unrelated to male interests and a predominantly female teaching workforce. . . . again the gap persists in foreign education systems, many of which are radically different from ours.

The gender reading gap is not a priority for the California Department of Education.

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