Boys, Girls, and Grades: Academic Gender Balance in British Columbia Secondary Schools

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Who does better in school: boys or girls? Earlier in the decade much was written about the disadvantages that girls faced in the classroom. More recently it has been suggested that, in fact, it is the boys who are getting short-changed. Importantly, we find no conclusive evidence in the research that suggests that boys and girls are destined to achieve at different levels in any aspect of the academic program. Further, the provincial Ministry of Education and the British Columbia Teachers' Federation both assert that in British Columbia's public schools the individual characteristics of students--including, presumably, their gender--are taken into account by teachers and by counsellors. So, by nature and by policy, boys and girls should achieve the same levels of academic success. But do they?

To answer this question, we first analyzed student performance across the province in the eight most popular Grade-12 academic courses. The results show that girls and boys do not, on average, fair equally well in our secondary schools. However, an important question remains: Are girls actually learning more or are school-based assessments systematically biased against boys?

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