Note: This article will expire, so I am quoting more liberally than I might otherwise…
Why do smart boys get worse grades than girls?
The answer, according to a new study by Draves and fellow researcher Julie Coates, is that boys learn differently than girls and are penalized for behavior unrelated to learning.
Schools and colleges should change the way they teach and, in particular, should stop penalizing students for turning homework in late, the study concludes.
“There is no evidence that penalizing boys for late homework works,” said Draves, president of the Learning Resources Network, a national education organization based in River Falls, Wis.
Almost every year since 1991, boys in grades nine through 12 have had lower grade-point averages than girls. In 2004, the most recent year for which statistics were available, boys in 12th grade had an average GPA of 2.77, while the average for girls was 3.02.
What’s more, the gap does not close in college. Even when colleges admit boys and girls with the same high school GPAs, males get lower grades in college, research has shown. Men account for just 35 percent of college graduates.
Homework fails to make the grade
The GPA gap in secondary school is due in large part to the penalties for turning in homework late, the study says. Boys’ test scores are equal to those of girls; it is on homework where they fall short.
One reason smart boys fail to turn homework in on time is that they are neurologically geared toward unsolved problems and challenges, Draves said. If they already have mastered a particular task, it becomes boring, and they have a hard time focusing on the assignment at hand.
The immediate solution, the study says, is to stop penalizing students for turning in homework late and allow students to quiz out of homework or assignments that they already know.
Removing the penalty for late homework would reduce the GPA gap, eliminate needless and counterproductive punishment of boys and provide the conditions for millions of academically gifted boys to attend college, the study concludes.
There is support for making a gender differentiation in this study, but here’s a thought: Why not simply revise curricula so that students (male and female) can quiz out and bypass homework? This has always been the issue in our house: If they’re demonstrating mastery of the material on tests and quizzes, why are they penalized for not getting homework done and/or in? This seems like a no-brainer to me, but of course, whenever dealing with the educrats, there is the need to discuss, analyze, re-discuss, and bastardize the result, similar to these remarks by Chuck Weis, Ventura County Supt. of Schools:
“Letting all of us males off the hook for being late all of the time on assignments isn’t a great idea,” said Chuck Weis, Ventura County superintendent of schools. “Indeed, if that is a difficult thing for boys, we should be helping them overcome that and not just accepting it.”
No, no…let’s look at the real problem, which is that some kids need homework and some kids don’t. Period.