Recently it has been argued that the underachievement of boys has been happening for many years (Epston, Elwood ET. Al. 1999), it was simply the fact that female students were prevented from entering schools that enable this to go unnoticed for so long. During the days of the 11 plus it was well documented that boys performed at a lower level than girls. More girls (nationally) obtained the highest marks in these examinations. A direct consequence of this was that girls had to do far better than boys in order to gain a place at grammar school. It was thought, at the time, although boys underachieved (compared to girls) in the 11 plus, their future educational potential was greater (Dillon and Maguire 1997). In today's schools and colleges underachievement of boys (compared with girls of the same age) would seem to be a nationwide. Many schools have adopted specific strategies in an attempt to tackle the problem. National daily newspapers regularly offer publicity to this issue (commonly referred to as the 'gender gap') as does the TES (TES 1999).
[...] This example can be thought to suggest that teachers regard the differing success of males and females (at A-level) in a different way than they do at GCSE. This difference in attitudes could be having some impact on performance. The language used to describe a good GCSE student compared with the language used to describe a good A-level student further illustrates this point. At GCSE hard work is rewarded along with organisation and communication skills. At A-level words used to refer to a good student tend to be flair or unique. [...]
[...] Clearly (1992) and Willingham and Cole (1997) have all suggested that once a sample includes only students from the upper end of a grade distribution, gender performance will greatly depend on the male to female ratio. They point out that overall the statistics of the sample will influence gender differences more than any other factor. These problems in gender enrolment are further magnified from subject to subject. The difference in the uptake of male and female students for certain subjects is vast. [...]
[...] The choice of option varies between the sexes so a more in depth analysis of the results is needed. The research shows that more boys tend to opt for triple science than girls, and, that pupils taking triple science tend to be more able. Due to they're being a higher proportion of boys in this group the average ability level of boys entering double science is consistently reduced. The research also shows that because the final grade is an average over the 3 subjects (chemistry physics and biology) gender differences between individual subjects are hidden. [...]
[...] Main Findings The above overview briefly covers the gender gap at secondary level, but what of performances at Is the gender gap as pronounced here as at key stage Little attention appears to have been paid to gender differences at this level. In my opinion, this appears to be an oversight considering the attention given to GCSE level. At this stage educational outcomes are often critical. The General Certificate of Education (GCE) Advanced level is the main examination taken at post 16 level in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. [...]
[...] Elwood J., (1998) Gender and performance in the GCE A-level examination, University of London. Elwood J. (1999). The curriculum j No Elwood J. and Comber C. (1996) Gender differences in examinations at 18+ London Institute Of Education. 10) Epstein D., Elwood J., Hey V., and Maw J., (1999) Failing Boys Issues in Gender and achievement. 11) Goldstein H. and Thomas S. (1996) using examination results as indicators of school and college performance. 12) UK statistics for Wales from http://education.wales.gov.uk 13) Harris S., Nixon J. [...]
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