Education gender gap now favors girls, professor says

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The gender gap in education is not what it used to be. Girls are now more likely to get into college and graduate than boys, and new research shows the gap may start as early as kindergarten.

David Mustard is a professor in the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. He co-authored a study recently released in the Journal of Human Resources that followed a group of kids from kindergarten through fifth grade.

That study suggests girls consistently get better grades than boys and the reason for the gap, in large part, may be what Mustard calls non-cognitive skills.

"Can he work independently?" Mustard asks "Can he work consistently on a project for a long period of time? Can he interact with others and work in a team?"

Mustard says in all of those areas, young girls score much higher than young boys, and he believes that effects grades. While some may say, "Too bad!" Boys need to learn to sit still, and pay attention. This study raises questions about the best ways to engage boys, and put them on a productive path.

Denver Public Schools is trying a few new things. There is a new all boys school called Sims Fayola Academy that acknowledges a difference in best practices for teaching boys versus girls. At schools like High Tech Early College, where every 9th grader gets a tutor, district leaders have found that boys show much greater improvements when they work with male tutors. The district is now trying to expand that program and find more male tutors. Plus teachers are trying to get kids up out of their seats to work at the board.

That sounds good to Denver child psychologist Dr Sheryl Ziegler. She believes movement is very important and she hopes schools will see the benefits of regular recess and PE. She hopes more research will be done on the best way to educated boys versus girls.

"These discrepancies in behaviors exit," she said. Of course many boys do extremely well in the classroom setting. Other research is being done to determine how much race, income level and family account for any gaps in education. As parents, the most important thing is to find what works best for your child.

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