Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brockton Sees Gender Disparities in MCAS Proficiency Rates

In 2011, Lynn saw some significant gender disparities in graduation rates at three out of the four high schools. The Brockton public school system also saw a gender disparity in its graduation rate with 64.5% of males graduating in four years while 74.7% of females graduated. The gender disparity on Brockton's educational related outcomes in 2011 also extended to standardized test scores (MCAS). 

The biggest gaps between males and females were in English language arts where there was a 13.3 point average difference in proficiency rates at each grade level; the range was between eight  and  seventeen points. This is not particularly surprising given research which suggests that females tend to do better in reading/writing than males. The smallest gap between males and females in Brockton was in the third grade reading proficiency rates. In 2011, 33% of third graders scored proficient or above on the MCAS test. When broken down by gender, 29% of males achieved proficiency on this exam compared to 37% of females. Third grade reading proficiency rates have been established as highly predictive of the likelihood of graduating from high school; the gender disparity in reading at this level was mirrored by the previously mentioned disparity in graduation rates between males and females. The largest gaps between males and females was in 7th grade English language arts (ELA) where 64% of females achieved proficiency compared to 47% of males. The disparities in reading/ELA proficiency rates at all of the grade levels were as follows:
  • 3rd:   37% females versus 29% males
  • 4th:   36% females versus 21% males
  • 5th:   52% females versus 40% males
  • 6th:   53% females versus 37% males
  • 7th:   64% females versus 47% males
  • 8th:   75% females versus 61% males 
  • 10th:  80% females versus 70% males

In mathematics, gender disparities were much smaller with an average 2.8 point difference in proficiency rates at each grade level. Males actually performed equal to or better than females at two grade levels in this subject area. At the third grade level, males and females had the same proficiency rate in math (38%) while on the 4th grade exam, males did better than females by a single percentage point (22% females vs. 23% for females). Overall, females in Brockton had a 37% proficiency rate in math while males had a 34% proficiency rate. The disparities in mathematics at all grade levels are as follows: 
  • 3rd:  38% females versus 38% males
  • 4th:  22% females versus 23% males
  • 5th:  36% females versus 33% males
  • 6th:  35% females versus 30% males
  • 7th:  33% females versus 28% males
  • 8th:  34% females versus 32% males
  • 10th: 62% females versus 60% males

    On the 2011 science MCAS exam, which was only taken in grades 5, 8 and 10, females only had a higher proficiency rate on the 8th grade exam (17% versus 14%). On the 5th grade science exam, males had a 20% proficiency rate compared to 18% for females and on the 10th grade exam both genders had a 50% proficiency rate. The average difference in proficiency rates on the science exam was 1.5 percentage points.

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