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Sweet Rose Ramblings (AKA The Call-Waiting Blog)

A place for my unformed thoughts. Help me sort them out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Chicks Score

The latest test scores show that girls measure up when it comes to math - you go girl!

Oh, and in another education-related article, about whether the Internet is responsible for a decrease in students reading. Ironically, I haven't read the entire article, however, I think they have a point.


At July 28, 2008 2:05 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

Sorry to burst the bubble, but they took out problem-solving problems from the tests, which is where males generally pulled way ahead of females.

At July 28, 2008 2:09 PM, Blogger Shoshana said...

That is not what the article said. The article stated that the tests did not include those questions, so they instead used national test results for those type of questions instead. Girls rock.

At July 28, 2008 2:55 PM, Blogger B. Spinoza said...

I hate math

At July 28, 2008 11:06 PM, Blogger Ezzie said...

I know that that's what the NYT said, but you have to look elsewhere to get full stories. :)

Read about this in the WSJ last week.

At July 29, 2008 6:30 AM, Blogger Shoshana said...

Well, apparently your beloved WSJ doesn't quite get the full story either. I used my school login to obtain the original article recently published from the journal Science that both the WSJ and the NYT were referring to.

It did mention the limitation of the recent No Child Left Behind testing (which is where they obtained the test scores) leaving out more complex problem-solving questions, which they state is disturbing considering that teachers now teach to the test and are not covering the more complex material because it is not included. However, the study also very clearly states that they went beyond these results to the national test scores, as the NYT reported. Their conclusion was "Thus, even for difficult items requiring substantial depth of knowledge, gender differences were still quite small."

In fact, the only difference that was found to be significant (and this is not new), was that the variability amongst male students is larger than that of females, meaning guys have more of the extreme scores on either end. However, on average, as the study actually states, "the general population no longer shows a gender difference in math skills."

At July 29, 2008 11:52 AM, Blogger Ezzie said...

(and this is not new), was that the variability amongst male students is larger than that of females, meaning guys have more of the extreme scores on either end.


From the WSJ's Best of the Web, here's the point:

As Hyde and her colleagues looked across the data for states' testing, they found something they didn't expect: In most states they reviewed, and at most grade levels, there weren't any questions that involved complex problem-solving, an ability needed to succeed in high levels of science and math. . . .

That might be a glaring omission, said Stephen Camarata, a Vanderbilt University professor who has researched the issue but was not involved in the study.

"We need to know that, if our measures aren't capturing some aspect of math that's important," Camarata said. "Then we can decide whether there's an actual male or female advantage."

Math, as Charles Murray explained in a 2005 Commentary essay, is "the most abstract field" in the sciences, and also the one in which the achievement gap between the sexes is greatest: "The number of great female mathematicians is approximately two (Emmy Noether definitely, Sonya Kovalevskaya maybe)."

Thus, as it turns out, the findings of the study are entirely consistent with the hypothesis that boys and men tend to be better at math than their female counterparts. No child left behind--equal ignorance for all!

Okay (Ezzie now) - the point you made above about the extremes on both ends is somewhat my point. While on *average* men and women do the same, the men hit the high extreme far more than women. That means that among those who are going into (say) engineering, you're presumably taking from a pool that's on the high end of the spectrum in math. On that high end, the men - who hit the extremes more - will be far more prevalent than the women, and will likely have an easier go of it. That both sexes can handle the less abstract math in younger grades is no great deal; the issue is when you get to the more complex stuff, where only a few succeed, that you find men being far more successful. By taking out the complex problems on those tests, yes, it showed girls and boys to be equal - but as you get into the complex math, the women who are around will suddenly find that they are having a much harder time of it than the men who are.


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