NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Girls Far Outscore Boy in Writing

July 11, 2003

Girls far outscored boys on the writing portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, according to new data released Thursday. It's the largest gender gap of any major subject area tested by NAEP, the federal tests often called "the nation's report card."

The NAEP writing test is given every four years to fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders. It is considered perhaps the most respected of the nation's major academic tests and allows comparisons between states.

At all three grade levels tested, girls finished on top by wide margins.

  • Forty percent of eighth-grade girls scored high enough on NAEP to be considered "proficient" under the test's rules.
  • Only 20 percent of boys did.
  • To put it another way: If all of America's eighth-grade girls moved to their own state, it would have the fourth-highest writing scores in the country.
  • If all the boys moved to their own state, it would rank 37th of the 41 states that NAEP tested.
  • The federal No Child Left Behind law passed last year requires that states test students in reading and math, but has no such requirement for writing.
  • Texas' new statewide test assesses students in reading every year from grades three to nine, but in writing only twice, in grades four and seven.
  • There are also two English language-arts exams that combine reading and writing into one test.

Source: Joshua Benton, "Report finds huge gender gap in writing skills test," Dallas Morning News, July 11, 2003.


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