NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Boys Falling Behind

December 22, 2003

A survey by the Southern Regional Education Board reveals disturbingly different attitudes about education among 40,000 male and female students. The teens polled are typical, not stars or low performers. They score at the national average on federal math and verbal tests. Among their classmates, they most likely are headed to the workforce, two-year colleges, technical training programs or less-competitive four-year colleges.

According to the survey of students in 1,000 high schools in 26 states:

  • 84 percent of girls said it was important to continue their education beyond high school, only 67 percent of boys agreed.
  • 70 percent of the "average" girls thought it was useful to do well in school to achieve life goals; only 57 percent of the boys felt the same.

In the words of veteran Atlanta educator Gene Bottoms, who conducted the survey, high schools are "losing" many average boys.

Girls long have been better students than boys in the early grades. Traditionally, boys have caught up with girls -- and even surpassed them in math and science courses starting in 10th or 11th grades. But the survey by the Southern Regional Education Board confirms that because many average boys aren't joining these late bloomers, they're falling behind, says USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Boys' academic slide calls for accelerated attention," USA Today, December 22, 2003.

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