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LAUSD panel unsure why girls score better than boys on English tests

Mike Szymanski | October 6, 2015

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McKennaOne of the most interesting and surprising results of LAUSD student test scores this year was that across the board, girls outscored boys in English Language Arts.

It didn’t matter if they were in traditional schools, magnet schools or charters. It didn’t matter the grade level, area of LA Unified, nor the racial breakdown. Girls were better — and that was reflected in the overall California results, too.

“It is curious that females scored higher than males, we have never seen that before,” Cynthia Lim, the executive director of the Office of Data and Accountability, told the LAUSD Curriculum, Instruction and Educational Equity Committee at a meeting today. In math tests, the differences were minimal, and in years past there was never as marked a difference according to gender, she said.

Now, the district is going to look into possible reasons why.

“Do girls still keep diaries?” School board member George McKenna mused aloud. “That may help them write, and writing is a most complex process. I do not know many boys that keep diaries.”

The new Smarter Balanced Assessment scores are taken on computer tablets and require more blocks of reading than previous tests. Also, they require a section in which listening is required to answer the questions, which was never done before.

“The tests require much more writing, we will look into this, we haven’t seen the same trend with the math scores,” Lim said.

McKenna posited, “Are females demonstrating their superiority of males, or are males not as competitive as they should be? Or maybe being smart is not machismo?”

Ruth Perez, Deputy Superintendent of Instruction, was also interested in figuring out the disparity and seeing whether girls tend to write more, therefore scoring better.

One result that was not the least surprising was that economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities and English language learners scored worse than the average student population.

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