Analyzing the gender gap in educational achievement in children ages 5-12
Van Parys, Jessica Nicole
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This thesis uses the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Early Childhood Longitudinal Study – Kindergarten Cohort 1998-99 (ECLS-K) to examine how a range of educational achievement measures vary by gender, controlling for (other) individual, family, teacher and school characteristics. I find that young girls perform better on reading tests, while boys earn higher scores on math and science tests. These differences appear in kindergarten and persist through the fifth grade. The gender gaps in test scores are not mirrored in classroom grades, which are higher for girls in reading, but (statistically) similar for girls and boys in math and science. The thesis also shows that girls are more likely to pursue learning activities and exercise self-control in the classroom. These results suggest an important role for non-cognitive skills in explaining the gender gap in educational achievement.