Boys perform ‘significantly better’ in schools with more girls in them, study suggests.
Girls are a smart influence.
A new study published Friday in “School Effectiveness and School Improvement” suggests that boys get better grades when their classes have a higher percentage of girls in them.
Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands analyzed the reading test scores of more than 200,000 15-year-olds from more than 8,000 co-ed schools around the world, and found that the boys’ performances were “significantly better” when more than 60% of their classmates were girls.
The authors cautioned that they don’t know why exactly female students appear to have such a positive influence on males, and they are calling for more research to determine whether there’s a similar grading curve in subjects besides reading, as well as what other discrepancies besides gender could have influenced scores.
But lead author Dr. Margriet van Hek from Utrecht University noted in her report that there has long been a gender gap in reading between school-age girls and boys, with younger women reading at a higher level and reading for pleasure more than younger men.
Reading matters. The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which works toward developing better futures for children, reports that kids are are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to graduate from high school and find a job that can support their families.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, which gives the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test to 15-year-olds around the world every three years, also reported in 2015 that girls attend school longer than boys, and that boys spend less time doing homework and are late to class more often than girls.
“We propose that girls find it easier to concentrate in class but also that they are more motivated to read,” Dr. van Hek told the Press Association. So she and her team suggest that the girls’ educational engagement could be a good influence on the boys in their classes.
And she added in her report that, “Boys’ poorer reading performance really is a widespread, but unfortunately also understudied, problem. Our study shows that the issue is reinforced when boys attend schools with a predominantly male student population. Yet schools can help improve this situation by ensuring a balanced gender distribution in their student population.”
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