Tuesday, November 2, 2010

American Men's Studies Association - 2006 Study Already Cast Doubt on A “Boy Crisis”

I posted a series of articles over the last week or two from the Canadian paper, Globe and Mail on the boy crisis - Failing Boys. The consensus of the studies was that boys are failing academically, being over-medicated, and are being left behind in nearly every way by girls. These articles were echoes of stories we have seen in the US over the past decade or two.

But the American Men's Studies Association is arguing that a 2006 study shows just the opposite - boys are doing better than ever. The links are available below. I'll include the summary from the study below.

2006 Study Already Cast Doubt on A “Boy Crisis”

November 1, 2010 by Editor

For the record, a study released in June 2006 looking at long-term trends in test scores and academic success argues that widespread reports of U.S. boys being in crisis are greatly overstated and that young males in school are in many ways doing better than ever.

Using data compiled from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a federally funded accounting of student achievement since 1971, the Washington-based think tank Education Sector found that, over the past three decades, boys’ test scores are mostly up, more boys are going to college and more are getting bachelor’s degrees.

Read the Washington Post story.

Download the full report from Education Sector here.

Here is some of the study summary from the Education Sector site:
The real story is not bad news about boys doing worse; it's good news about girls doing better.

In fact, with a few exceptions, American boys are scoring higher and achieving more than they ever have before. But girls have just improved their performance on some meas­­­ures even faster. As a result, girls have narrowed or even closed some academic gaps that previously favored boys, while other long-standing gaps that favored girls have widened, leading to the belief that boys are falling behind.

There's no doubt that some groups of boys—particularly Hispanic and black boys and boys from low-income homes—are in real trouble. But the predominant issues for them are race and class, not gender. Closing racial and economic gaps would help poor and minority boys more than closing gender gaps, and focusing on gender gaps may distract attention from the bigger problems facing these youngsters.

The hysteria about boys is partly a matter of perspective. While most of society has finally embraced the idea of equality for women, the idea that women might actually surpass men in some areas (even as they remain behind in others) seems hard for many people to swallow. Thus, boys are routinely characterized as "falling behind" even as they improve in absolute terms.

In addition, a dizzying array of so-called experts have seized on the boy crisis as a way to draw attention to their pet educational, cultural, or ideological issues. Some say that contemporary classrooms are too structured, suppressing boys' energetic natures and tendency to physical expression; others contend that boys need more structure and discipline in school. Some blame "misguided feminism" for boys' difficulties, while others argue that "myths" of masculinity have a crippling impact on boys.3 Many of these theories have superficially plausible rationales that make them appealing to some parents, educators, and policymakers. But the evidence suggests that many of these ideas come up short.

Unfortunately, the current boy crisis hype and the debate around it are based more on hopes and fears than on evidence. This debate benefits neither boys nor girls, while distracting attention from more serious educational problems—such as large racial and economic achievement gaps—and practical ways to help both boys and girls succeed in school.

Download the full report (PDF).

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