Nation's Report Card:  Writing test shows gender gap
September 17th, 2012
04:32 AM ET

Nation's Report Card: Writing test shows gender gap

by Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) When it comes to writing, girls are better than boys.

That’s a generalization, but it’s one that is supported by the latest writing test from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), better known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The test, taken by 24,100 eighth-graders and 28,100 students in the 12th grade, was administered in early 2011. NAEP tests in different subjects have been given to students in the U.S. since 1969.  This year, however, marked the first time that the writing test was computer-based.  Students were able to take advantage of editing software and other writing tools, such as spell check and a thesaurus, as they crafted their writing samples.

Since this was the first large-scale writing assessment designed to be taken on a computer, the National Assessment Governing Board, which administers the NAEP, said that it could not make comparisons to previous “paper and pencil” writing tests.

Students were asked to perform writing tasks in three areas:  To persuade, trying to change the reader’s point of view; to explain, trying to broaden a reader’s understanding of a topic; and to convey experience, trying to provide an account of a real or imaginary experience to a reader.

The NAEP writing test is a scaled test with a range of 0-300, and a mean score of 150.  “Achievement levels” were set along that scale for the categories Below Basic, Basic, Proficient and Advanced.

Among eighth-graders, about 3% scored advanced, 24% scored proficient or above, 54% basic, and 20% below basic.  (Because the numbers were rounded, they do not add up to 100%).

Among 12th-graders, about 3% scored advanced, 24% scored proficient or above, 52% basic and 21% below basic.

According to the board, performances varied by race, ethnicity, gender, school location and other factors, such as parents’ educational attainment.  But the most notable achievement gap was between males and females in both eighth and 12th grades.

On average, female students in the eighth grade scored 160; their male counterparts scored 140.

On average, female students in the 12th grade scored 157; males scored 143.

Education analyst Susan Pimentel, one of the team presenting the test scores on Friday’s NAEP conference call, said that while this test cannot determine cause and effect, there are some clues as to why the gap exists.  Students were surveyed to find out some additional information about them as they took the test. Among those surveyed, said Pimentel, 53% of girls agreed or strongly agreed that “Writing is one of my favorite activities”, but only 35% of the boys felt that way.  Since writing improves with practice, she said this is “an important variable to observe.”

According to the survey, 39% of 12th-graders said they write only one page of homework or less per week in English, which is also of concern as high school teachers focus on college readiness as one of the goals of the Common Core State Standards, said Pimentel.

The NAEP test also revealed that regardless of income, students who frequently use computers to draft and revise their writing performed better than those who regularly do not.

To improve on writing scores, the board encourages engaging boys in “meaningful” writing as part of the curriculum and providing all students with opportunities to use computers to write and edit whenever possible.

You can read the 2011 Nation’s Report Card in writing here.

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Filed under: Practice • Testing • Writing
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. shuffleboard table

    Thanks for some other great article. Where else could anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I'm on the search for such info.

    September 25, 2012 at 10:53 am |

    It is simple, females are more articulate as a matter of habit. Males are more visual. Why is anyone surprised by this? Most women use 20 words to say something that could be expressed in 10 or 15, while a man will grunt out the basics in 2-3 words.

    September 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  3. Robert

    My English 2 teacher has decided to focus on writing this year, and we got a grant for laptops and iPads, and I know I do better on both then pen and paper(mostly because I have both). Give me something to write on with pen and paper and I will sit there for hours trying to just focus on it, but with a computer, it is so much easier to focus.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  4. Apps4u

    Yet another story that I'm not allowed to comment on! Fascists.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  5. generous kaz

    Is it still even necessary to make the comparisons? This article only goes to prove that the American education system is lacking in any improvement for academic performance among everyone. This correlates even with the trend of more girls graduating high school over boys. Guys just didn't get lazy with the studying and going to school; most guys just wanted to go out to get a manual labor job, jobs the most girls won't be able to do, and those girls therefore end up just going to school because there's nothing else to do. So what's the point? A good number of boys don't like being flowery writers whereas a good number of girls do. Too much and too little of something is never a good thing anyway. The world's not going to end tomorrow just because of this.

    September 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  6. Fools2234

    SO, just wondering when our "equal" government will do something about the boy crisis? Boys drop out in higher numbers, commit suicide at 4 times the rate girls do and represent only 42% of college attendance, yet we still fund programs like the "Womens educational equity act" (no similar act for boys of course) and still have special programs for women in STEM as well as "female only" scholarships despite them being a majority on campus.

    Guess since this is "just" a mens issue it will be ignored...unlike if it was an issue that affected women.

    September 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • gregory

      I totally agree- it is only politically correct to help females. Sad and infuriating.

      September 18, 2012 at 3:00 am |
  7. Great distraction

    Focus on the "gender gap" so we don't pay any attention to the real failure of the education system in general. America ranks at the bottom of all industrialized countries when it comes to math, science and critical thinking skills.

    Who cares if girls write better than boys when neither of them can write more than 150 characters at a time.

    September 17, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • rashataur

      BTW, we've been in the bottom 25% of the NAEP scores since we started participating in 1969. Despite what political rhetoric you read, we're no better or worse than we were when things were supposedly sooooo great here in the ol' USA. Actually, if you look at the scores of low-SES students (read: urban), we're better than we've ever been.

      September 17, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  8. James

    Why doesn't this gender gap get the attention of Congress or the Department of Education? The gender gap in math and science (which favors boys) gets an enormous amount of federal money to set up programs and change teaching methods specifically to help girls. Sorry ladies, but your gains are seriously tainted. The new girls network is no less oppressive than the old boys club.

    September 17, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  9. Jim

    Just wondering... Why is ok to make generalizations such as "When it comes to writing, girls are better than boys", but no one is allowed to say publicly things like "When it comes to math, whites and asians are better than blacks" ?? or "When it comes to sprint events, blacks are better than asians and whites" I don't understand the difference.

    September 17, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • perennial2

      You'd understand it if you'd paid more attention in school, like all the girls did.

      September 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
      • Rob

        You didnt answer his question and he posed a valid one. You merely quipped something to be cute, and instead you came across as ignorant and intolerant.

        September 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
      • TRUTH

        In response to Rob: So you see, this quip was actually well thought out and to the point. American or sometime called U.S. History is taught in school and if Jim(bob) had paid attention, he would have been able to answer his on own idiotic question.

        September 18, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • TRUTH

      It's because black people were slaves in our country who were not even allowed to learn how to read, write or do math for decades so they consequently have historically been behind academically. So for someone to point out the fact that they are behind and to ponder why...would frankly be ignorant. On the other hand, boys, mainly white and Asian boys, have historically been allowed to learn to read, write, and do math, so the fact that they fall behind girls in testing is ....let's say...peculiar....Hope this helps. And you may want to pick up an American history book or 10 when you get a chance 😉

      September 18, 2012 at 12:40 am |
      • tron777

        That is such a lame excuse! There has not been a slave in this country in 150 years they can;t read because they are mentaly inferior.

        September 18, 2012 at 11:43 am |

        150 years after gaining their freedom, black have had numerous generation to learn the value of a decent education. The problem is to many blacks want someone else to make getting that education easier for them because they are black! The race card does not apply in this story.

        September 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
      • Tesla

        There's not really an excuse, but there is a reason, culturally. The image of the "tough black guy," or as some would say "thug," is a popular one in black culture. Ignorance is seen as acceptable as long as you're "hard." There exist similar cultural icons in any other culture (Jersey Shore and Honey BooBoo are examples of people willfully accepting ignorance for some other goal).

        On a note more related to the article, I find (in my entirely subjective opinion) that using a writing test is a silly way to gauge intelligence or performance. Writing and language arts is only important insofar as they help you communicate with others. Judging how students use the entirely overcomplicated and constantly evolving rules of the english language shouldn't be necessary if the student made a strong, persuasive argument (admittedly, language arts does help an argument gain strength).

        Let's do a similar test on history, math, and general science. I'd like to see where those numbers lie.

        September 19, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  10. rasko41

    Writing doesn't matter. All that matters is how many feet of ditch you can dig in an hour. They need to get rid of writing in school, as well as the devil's runes, mathematics.

    September 17, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  11. judeamorris

    So the test shows that the majority of students have only "basic" writing skills, and the piece focuses on whether girls write better than boys. The answer is obviously "barely." The test results themselves should be a reason for major concern. Employers have been complaining since the 90s that their employees have very poor communication skills, even on memos; our schools supposedly responded with better writing instruction; and our kids still can't make an argument or explain anything on paper. Sad.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  12. brit

    check this out

    September 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  13. Luke

    How easy is school these days? Spell checker on a writing test? Anything to get better test scores I guess. To be fair they are preparing these kids for college. Community college. Where all you gotta do is show up! Ya baby

    September 17, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • judeamorris

      Since almost all writing (especially that done on college campuses) is done on computers these days, spell check is not only a commonly used tool, but THE most commonly used tool in writing. That does not mean that students don't need to know how to spell, but spelling is not a component of writing testing. Spelling is tested with language usage.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  14. Kenny

    That's nice. Now get back in the kitchen and write me a sandwich.

    September 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Random Girly

      Yes, Sir. Will that be ham or turkey?

      September 17, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  15. mac101

    I don't see much difference in those scores other than they are too low for both genders. But if you want kids to learn to write well, give them topics to write about that channel their enthusiasm. I used to tutor kids who needed extra help in a variety of subjects. One of my students was a die-hard Met fan who was struggling with math. It's amazing how much math is involved in baseball. By the end of our time together, he could calculate ERA's, RBI's, and batting average like a pro-ball statistician. But more important, he learned to like math, because he learned what it could do.

    If boys have "trouble communicating," let them communicate about something they are passionate about, and they will improve their writing skills. For my son, it was cars, for other boys, sports, or perhaps their favorite music, but truthfully – it isn't that hard, you just have to get creative.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
    • perennial2

      If you want someone to write better, they first need to read better. Poor writers, especially those who avoid it at all costs, are usually those who never read anything in long form. These days, that's anything longer than a paragraph or 140 characters. When I taught college a decade ago, I had several students who not only didn't read, they couldn't. And yes, both were males who'd gotten by on their looks but had very little chance of employment in the real world. Worse still, they were journalism majors, hoping to sidestep their illiteracy by going into television news/sports. How their parent(s) and the urban public school system let that happen is another giant mess.

      September 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
      • t

        most of us didn't read past you first sentence. If you want to make a point get to it.

        September 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  16. aurorafeline

    Check out the book lists banned by school systems or removed from school libraries.....modern writing often features modern themes, worries, and language. Why a book gets banned for language that kids can hear in the grocery store is beyond me. Stop worrying that a "child" (most kids are more savvy than given credit for) might have questions about a book or, worse, start thinking in a manner different from their parents and bring in books which strike a cord. Once reading starts having a value, they will continue.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • VtMe

      Sorry, but the article was about writing not reading. While related, they are not the same and are not tested in the same way. The article focused on the differences between boys' and girls' scores and some factors which might explain why the difference is occurring. The act of reading, or the value of reading as an enhancement to learning writing was not mentioned.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  17. Just Say'n

    ..and as usual blacks and hispanic finished at the bottom... good job.
    Go vote again for the same politicians who will enable you to NOT excel.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • God

      Maybe if their schools had books..... Just sayin.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
      • Just Say'n

        Why give them books if they use it only to wipe their aR$E? lol///

        September 17, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  18. Ice Usum

    That should be can't use logical reasoning. Apparently we can't type either!

    September 17, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  19. Ice Usum

    Let's see, we can't write, we can't add, subtract, multipy or divide, we can use logical reasoning, we're overweight and yet we still cling to the idea that we're number 1? We have a long way to go to get back into contention and it starts with the basis.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  20. Robin Hood

    Best advice I gave to son who was struggling in writing english papers.
    Relate the protagonist's feelings, (whatever the story if they are male), to their Inadequacies about the size of their winkie.
    His grades started to improve after that.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  21. Kay

    A lot of people have suggested that the reason behind this gender gap is that curriculum is more focused around literature more interesting to females. This may be true with some schools, but my personal experience was that my 12th grade AP Literature class was quite balanced in terms of literature interesting to both genders. While we spent time studying Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jane Eyre, books written by female authors, with female protagonists and themes relating more to love, we also read Invisible Man, Heart of Darkness and Billy Budd, books by male authors, with male protagonists, with themes more interesting to males. That being said, my AP Literature class contained about 20 students, about 4 of which were males. My AP Physics class had a about 22 students about 7 of which were female. The best writer in my AP Literature class was male and the best student in AP Physics was female. I don't know if the issue is really whether females are more naturally gifted at writing, it seems to me either gender can excel but males are more likely to chose to puruse advanced classes related to math and science and females are more likely to pursue advanced classes related to writing.

    September 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • bresner23

      since women are too stupid to keep up with men, we have to coddle them and pretend they are intelligent: MANHOOD101. COM

      September 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
      • Leo

        Only pathetic little boys need to scream and whine about how life isn't fair and women have it so easy. Smart is smart and dumb is dumb. The valedictorians at my high school, all four years I was a student, were girls. Trust me, they can handle themselves just fine. You're only bitter because you're a chauvenist and misogynist who keeps getting turned down for dates because women can read right through you. You're a little boy if you're still whining about things like that.

        September 17, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • God

        I guess that's why more women graduate from college than men... coddling.

        September 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      Tess of the D'Urbervilles was written by Thomas Hardy, not by a woman. Otherwise I agree with everything you're saying.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • kls817

      If the situation were reversed and the boys outscored the girls, the shrill feminists would immedidately blame it on discriminations and demand more money spent on girls. Of course they are silent about this and don't want to "even the playing field" by focusing more on boys education.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
      • pdxmum

        A lot of us feminists (though I don't consider myself shrill) have sons, sons we love very much, and we don't like seeing them fall behind in school either. What I have seen as a big part of the problem is that most teachers up until high school are women, and being female simply don't 'get' that boys learn differently and behave differently than girls, and so what is completely normal, healthy behavior in a male is seen as misbehavior or inattention. By time they reach middle/high school the damage is already done. Please don't paint feminists with such a broad brush; you can be for girls without being against boys.

        September 18, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  22. rad666

    Boys are on the front lines, they need to know how to pull a trigger.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • God

      And nothing more than that, or else they won't go.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  23. lewax00

    The problem I had in high school writing is that I generally lost points for not including enough detail. I think when it comes down to it, the fact is that men are usually much more to the point in communication. With male friends it usually doesn't take many words to get a point across (if words are necessary at all). Women on the other hand, tend to be much more descriptive, and tend to use a lot more words in general (something I also find can irritate men, who just want them to get to the point).

    September 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • drowlord

      I have two degrees (both in sciences), and I had a roommate with two degrees (one in a science, plus a Masters in philosophy). We wanted to go to an auction. On Saturday morning, I got up, got ready, and knocked on his door. He opened it, looked at me with bleary eyes, nodded, and closed the door. I went back to my bedroom and got on the computer. A little while later, he knocked at my door. I opened it to see that he was ready, and we left. We got into the car and started driving to the auction, which was about an hour away. At about 10:30am. I said "You want to get something to eat before the auction?" He replied. "Nah." I think that's everything we said to each other before noon.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • Dave

      Haha, your comment reminds me of my interactions with my wife after work. She's an English/PE teacher at a middle school in Denver. Our conversation usually goes something like this:

      Her: How was your day?
      Me: It was good. Got a lot done. Yours?
      Her: Forty minute monologue detailing various interactions with teachers and students whose names I don't recognize and won't remember when she's done.
      Me: Mmhmm. That's good.
      Her: Were you listening at all?

      C'est la vie.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  24. Arachne Bleu

    So this particular test has a mean score of 150. Eighth grade girls average 160 and eighth grade boys average 140? Neither score is particularly commendable. One is barely above the mean and one is slightly below the mean. Perhaps we need to promote reading and writing, not to mention math skills, more than we promote athletics, drama, music, etc. I'm all for the extracurricular subjects, but too many of our children are falling short in basic skills. I teach in a community college, and over 50% of the students we receive from our high schools fall short of the necessary math skills to take college level math. Close to the same percentage fall short of the necessary language skills to take college level English. What is wrong with this picture?

    September 17, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • ironwolf56

      To be fair Drama and (especially) music have long looooong (like Ancient Greece long) been part of a classical education and for good reason. Music especially is very math-oriented and logic mixed with creativity. There's a lot of things that should be cut in public school systems to put the money to better use, but I wouldn't count those two things as it. Start with useless administrators and "consultants" they spend 60% of their budgets on.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Arachne Bleu

        I can only agree with you about the admin. and consultants. I also tend to agree that drama, music, and art are very important components of a well-rounded education, but not to the detriment of basic skills.

        September 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
      • Different Approach to Education

        I have to agree with you especially about drama. In order to do a play you have to read it and understand it. I fully believe that reading more also contributes to better writing... As for music not so much. It is important but you can get that as an after school activity. I think they should focus more on application skills of writing (maybe classroom contests), applying math skills to the real world and REAL science experiments not the lame garbage they do in class lately... I have found that application re-inforces the skills and children tend to remember them and apply them to real life better.

        September 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • TurtleGirl

      I believe one of the problems is that our schools focus on teaching our children to pass the standardized tests used in this country...I live in Massachusetts and we have whole blocks of instruction dedicated to MCAS preparation. It's all about the MCAS here and I'm sure we're not the only ones.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • lunaticrakshas

      dude, the scores are based around the mean.... not everyone can be above average. if everyone got half the problems wrong they would still half half the kids above average and half below.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • drowlord

      Are you trying to troll us, Arachne? Since mean basically means "the average" and since the test is SCALED at 0 to 300 points, 150 is "the mean" by mathematical definition, and not any kind of indication of any level of performance.

      If actual test scores ranged from 700 to 710 in a 1000-point scale, a scaled result from 0 to 300 would mean that 700 would be a 0 and 710 would be recorded at 300. Depending on the distribution, the mean could be anywhere from 700 to 710. Frankly, distorted numbers mean virtually nothing, except that on a percentile scale, boys trend 7 points below girls.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • God

      Good idea! Who needs music classes when we have robots like Deadmau5 to produce electronic backbeats?.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  25. dd

    The statistical significance of the difference is ? The female author failed to address the science and the mathematics of the result. Was the result statistically significant? NO! Was there any test to ask students to write material that would be analyzed by readers of a technical topic for comprehension? No! PROPER CONCLUSION: News journalists are amongst the lowest IQs, the lowest ACT scores, and the dumbest of the population with respect to Science, Mathematics, and General Knowledge. News journalists should be banned from writing! GRIN! and DESPAIR! Why are journalists so stupid?

    September 17, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • ironwolf56

      Ha! Well I say this as someone with a degree in journalism (actually a dual degree but one of the majors in it was journalism); all the jocks skating by just enough to stay on the team and the girls only there for their MRS degree did one of two majors: education or journalism.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  26. Josh

    Boys and girls are different. I think we need to stop assuming that everyone has to be equal in every aspect to be equal overall. We don't need special scholarships for girls in science or boys in English. Let's have equal opportunity and celebrate rather than try to overcome our differences.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  27. booboobear

    Turn off TV Monday-Friday + Turn off Wii/PS3/xBox Monday – Friday +Turn off smartphone/pad games Monday – Friday
    = better grades and more creative kids

    September 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • JayJ7

      35 hours/week of school+15hrs/week homework-fun and distractions= Crazy kids who hate learning.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
      • A. Dixon

        TV and video games are not the "only" fun and distraction. Back in the day there was this thing called "reading" that was also done just for the fun of it. One of the BIGGEST mistakes we are making in education is framing it as "work". We say that kids have "too much work" and "not enough time to be children" and they hop on board with this way of thinking. They think they are working too hard...meanwhile only 3% of these students are "advanced"? with almost 3/4 being "average or below"? These kids don't need more play time, they need more engaging learning activities. They need more knowledge and speaking first hand...I'm not impressed with the math skills of the average person (when did 25% off take 5 minutes to calculate? Why do we need a calculator to split a check in half or leave a 20% tip?). We need to demand more of our kids because we are part of a global economy and no one is going to save a place at the smart table for the U.S.

        Childhood is important, but it is also a preperation for the next 50-60 years of your life and these kids need to be better prepared. Having fun can mean a day at the museum or going on a nature hike or starting a lemonade stand or volunteering to read to others. Fun does not need to be intellectually void. Kids don't need 3 months off for summer, they need to be working on their leadership and business skills (dog walking or lawn mowing anyone?), they need to be exploring their interest or gaining new skills. They need to be growing their minds, not their waistlines.

        We view learning, education and the acquisition of knowledge as a chore and we pass that view down to our children. If we want smart kids we must start treating knowledge like its the new iPhone...something everyone wants and just has to have.

        September 17, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
      • Tesla

        Actually, studies have been done regarding that (and I apologize, I don't have the links on me right now), and kids perform better if they see school as work; specifically if they see it as their job. There are school districts that are not lowering their standards of teaching, but are using some of the mony give to them to provide their students with cash for grades. Better grades, bigger bucks. A lot of people hate this idea, but I'm ok with, it mostly because it will work. Kids may be dumb, but they know the almighty dollar.

        September 19, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • ironwolf56

      Actually there have been plenty of studies that have shown a bit of TV and video games makes kids MORE creative and gives them a mental outlet to relax and recharge themselves in. Those studies aren't really popular among the "schoolmarm" know-it-all types though so they don't get brought up a lot.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • JB


      September 17, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • glamb

      I for one can say that I have learned much more from TV than I ever did in school.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  28. Obvious

    Its been known for so long now that school systems are designed for women. Sitting, talking, socializing, recalling and remembering. That is school and that is women. Men are visual creatures. School isnt made for them like it is for women. There is tons of information on this subject. Do your own research.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • A. Dixon

      By your reasoning...woudn't most men fail and most females succeed in school? I just don't get that after having years of men (and women) who have excelled in the suddenly, teaching is geared more towards women? Women are more social or can sit still longer so they have an unfair advantage? Bull, total bull. Some students may have more of a desire or interest in one subject or another, but I think these numbers show a lack of engaging reading options for boys, that are both interesting and intellectual. They need a superhero that kills his enemy's with sonnets.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  29. Dave

    I blame the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. In middle school and high school so many of the books our English teachers chose for summer reading assignments or for reading during the school year were from the dreaded Club. Being a guy, I started most of them, made it to chapter two, and promptly dropped the books. Why do teachers insist on choosing boring feminine stories when there's so much exciting military history, sports stories, or classic adventure (Count of Monte Cristo anyone?) out there. We never once read a Sherlock Holmes story, but Tess of the D'urbervilles was right up there on the list. It's simple. If you want boys to read, provide them with material that speaks to their interests.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • drk

      I agree. Since boys hate everything that is "female" let's accommodate them. No sense in stretching their interests. The girls will read "boy" stories whether they like it or not.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Dave

        drk, I'm not asking teachers to hand out books that appeal only to boys, but even the playing field a little bit. There's no reason boys can't read certain books and girls can't read others. The point is, teachers need to get boys to read more...period. If giving them material that interests them accomplishes that goal, then that's all you need. Get out of here with your feminist nonsense.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      1. Tess of the D'urbervilles is a classic piece of literature not just some random Oprah Bookclub pick. It has been taught in schools long before her.
      2. Most reading lists are not determined by the teacher alone, but are part of the general school district curriculum.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • theneatfreakmom

      Hey now! Some of my absolute favorite books are those you mentioned and I'm female. It isn't about appealing to male/female but appealing to the readers. Encourage the class to read by allowing them to decide the reading curriculum from a list of books rather the teacher selecting the reading material.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • KW

      I am a woman and wholeheartedly agree with you. Boys have been behind in language arts and reading skills for years because I think a lot of teachers require more feminine books. There's nothing wrong with modern or classic books written by and about men, folks!

      September 17, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • ironwolf56

      The biggest problem is that most school districts are going to want the most milquetoast, inoffensive literature on the reading lists and so that means...the old standbys of swooning ladies writing about the guys they have crushes on. Boy-oriented literature, even the classics, tends to have violence, less than PC statements and so on.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
      • Tesla

        This. 100% this.

        I have a cousin who teaches American Lit at a very whitebread WASPish school. He's also taught a few other literature subjects. The crap off the possible reading lists is ridiculous. He's allowed a little interjection, but not much.

        I keep trying to have him go the horror route in American Lit; he's done some Edgar Allen Poe with the kids, but I think he should go for Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Wide range of vocabulary, and outstanding description (plus, a lot of it's free under creative commons). But he can't, because the idea of screaming alien gods from beyond time and space that drive men mad at the sight of them is "potentially upsetting."

        September 19, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • FreeReally

      A very good point but not just boys. My daughter is very sports oriented and she hates to read. Every book she was required to read, especially the 'classics' were sleep inducing for her. I read prolifically but what I am interested in, many of the classics she was required to read I have never read. Why should I muddle through Victorian english and situations that have nothing of interest to me – she feels the same. I believe the english reading requirements are not updated, not because these books are such 'classics' but because the english teachers themselves either feel if they were subjected to them they will do the same to their students or if they update the curriculum the teachers would actually have to read and interpret something new, which would be work!

      September 17, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  30. dan

    the results of this study are consistent with what i have observed re: suburbs vs. the city, poor areas vs. affluent, public vs. private schools, asian vs. black students, etc.. also, the magnitude of the disparities is greater in 8th grade, but generally diminish in the 12th grade. nothing was surprising here. with regards to the gender disparity, i agree with many posters that this is mostly cultural.... not genetic.

    September 17, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  31. Daniel

    Little girls are rewarded when they make up stories to get what they want. Little boys are punished when they do the same. The trend continues into adulthood. The results of the tests are not surprising.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Shelly

      I remember taking this test in school. You don't "make up stories" during this test. It's a subject selected by the school that the student has to write a persuasive paper about. Problem, cause, solution. It's not difficult and it's not fiction.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
      • Daniel

        The point is not about writing fiction. The point is more practice with a creative process and the use of persuasive words to make your point.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      When I was a little girl I don't remember ever being rewarded for lying.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
      • peridot2

        Nor was I. Interesting how many males perceive gender equality as women having an advantage over them. Evidently in their minds there's no such thing as equal.

        September 17, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  32. Daniel

    Wow, I guess the gender difference bothers me far less than the fact that way more than 50% of the kids are basic or below in proficiency. That is a really big problem honestly. We need to focus on bringing ALL the kids more up to scratch in their communication skills.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • jenny


      September 17, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • The fifty percent

      Before you get too worried about it, think about some of the people you might know, for whom 50% would be a significant achievement. Now picture them walking in and sitting down to take this writing test. It isn't a perfect bell-shape, but the scores do follow a pretty normal distribution. This isn't Lake Wobegon. It is mathematically impossible for every single student to be exceptional. We have to concentrate instead on making sure they can be their own best. Don't worry about half full or half empty. Just call it fifty percent.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • Maggie

      Couldn't agree with you more. In fact I read another article about the same test results that appeared in a newspaper published in a big city. That article focused more on the general lack of communication and writing/grammar skills of kids these days rather than gender or affluence. IMHO – texting is the worst thing ever invented.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Randy In Brooklyn

      The test is a scaled test (parapraph6). It is designed to have the distribution shown across the entire group. What is significant the subgroups within the large group as that shows differences. In any test like this 50% of the tested group as a whole will be below average.

      What you may be thinking of is ssome absolute test. Even there, someone would have to set the scale in some way.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      Is anyone else enjoying the irony of people like Daniel lamenting the state of eduction because 50% of the test takers were below average? They truly are the children left behind.

      September 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  33. Name*penguin

    I'm amazed boys still do better at math considering the bias teachers have against boys in school. My son was treated like dirt in grade and middle school and attended a failing innercity highschool yet managed 800 math, 800 advanced math, and 750 verbal SAT score His sister did better verbal but not as good math. Yet all the talk is why innercity schools are failing without considering why some innercity school students score very high

    September 17, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  34. Politically Incorrect

    Love it when I touch nerves of the people who have no original thoughts them selves,they should all run for political office,they would fit right in.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  35. BA, JD

    In one particularly atrocious AP English class I had in high school (admittedly a decade ago), the curriculum was dominated by feminist literature and feminist analyses of everything else. We even had to analyze Frankenstein as feminist literature, just because it was written by a woman, ignoring all the other themes and ideas that Mary Shelley explores. I would wager that this sort of one-dimensional English curriculum is not an isolated experience. It is difficult for students to succeed in any subject if they are marginalized in class.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Dave

      You're so right. Feminism rules the world of English.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Shazooooo

      Is this AP Literature or AP Language? There are 2 courses. I'll understand if you don't remember.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
      • Dave

        I got 5's on both tests. Diction, syntax, theme, point of view, tone...pick three and write about them. Throw in an opening paragraph with a thesis, and a closing paragraph with a conclusion, and you're got yourself a winning AP Lit or Language essay. The graders don't even read the things. They look for structure and keywords. Cliffs notes can earn you a 5, but they won't improve your writing. To get better at writing, you've got to read more, and to get boys to read more, you've got to give them books that pique their curiosity.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  36. MarylandBill

    The most basic problem is that many boys are given little incentive to read in school and if you never read, you will never be able to write.

    You want boys to write? Make sure they get lots of stories that feature action and adventure. Not politically correct these days, but its what boys love.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • ironwolf56

      Boys have a distinct lack of popular reading material these days too. I mean look at all the series girls have lately (as horrible as I think some of them are written): Twilight, Hunger Games, even Harry Potter is probably not something that teenage boys are going to feel is "acceptable" to read. I think we need some male authors writing some good, fun fiction for boys like we had in previous generations. I feel that all the English class programs they can fund won't make half as much of an impact as having something boys will WANT to read.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:40 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Agree in general, but I see Harry Potter as quite accessible to boys. There is plenty of action and its easy enough to slide by the very minor romance subplots if there is a lack of interest there.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:48 am |
      • ironwolf56

        I understand what you're saying Mark and I like the books too, but many teenage (especially, not so much a problem in grade school) boys won't read them because the series is perceived as sort of "girl books" or something. Of the three I mentioned it's the most likely to be read but still it seems to appeal more to girls than boys. I was still in high school when those books started coming out and the only ones reading them back then were my female peers...this has changed somewhat I'm sure though.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
      • Dave

        Hand 'em a Jack Reacher novel. Pure garbage, but they're guaranteed to finish it.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
      • MarylandBill

        If you wait until your kid becomes a teenager to hook them on reading, it is probably too late. In this regard, I will give Harry Potter credit because at least the early books in the series are generally accessible to tween readers and even maybe a little younger.

        Still, I remember when I was growing up, most of the reading I was assigned in school just did not interest me. Then in 8th grade, my English teacher demanded weekly book reports... The key was that we were allowed to choose the books we read. That is when I discovered literary Scifi (having always been a fan of Star Wars and Star Trek), and suddenly I became a voracious reader. I averaged a book a week after that until I was in my twenties. Now time constraints limit my reading, but I still love to read.

        Boys crave adventure, they crave stories that show them how to be men (real men, not the overly sensitive pseudo men who populate Twilight and the Hunger Games series (as much as I enjoyed the latter, the two male leads never rang true to me). I personally think that every boy dreams of being a hero.. and must let that dream build for a while until they can fit it into the role that society expects us to fulfill (father, husband and provider). Give me Hornblower over Peta anyday.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  37. GT66

    And yet the male inclination to achieve in math is decried as patriarchal oppression not because of natural ability. And here we have this article. Sounds like matriarchal oppression to me.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Social pressure tends to exacerbate natural differences. Even though these differences are rarely true splits, just general trends, each gender tends to be pushed toward their socially expected norm to their detriment if they actually have a natural ability that is not in the accepted norm.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  38. SCB

    I think the article should address why 12th grade girls show declining scores while 12th grade boys, on the other hand, show improvement...

    September 17, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ironwolf56

      As is usual we only get a snippet of the study, so not enough to make real estimates, but I'm thinking that three point range is not going to be too much outside of the standard deviation for this test and thus probably isn't that statistically significant.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:42 am |
      • dan

        they give the links for the data. not appropriate to provide sample sizes, standard errors, etc. in a story. if you follow the links, it leads you here.... jack.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • dan

        you are dead wrong. the data is compelling. i don't know why: #1 you assume that the magnitude of differences is not statistically significant. the sample size is huge and there is no reason to believe that the dispersion is large. #2 that you think it's appropriate to provide the data in this story. it's a piece! if you read science, nature, cell, or any scientific journal, they provide large data sets in supplementary links that you can look at, if you feel the need to. there is no reason to think that a story should provide such access to these details. i commend for providing the links that lead the interested reader to here:
        nice job

        September 17, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  39. AnotherMom

    I was always told that this difference was a left brain – right brain thing. Males are mostly left brain dominate and females right brain dominate. Left brain processes numbers, spatial awareness, etc. and right brain processes words, emotions, color etc.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • GT66

      While writing may not be a male strength, what this study and articles about it miss is that writing is NOT communicating. While males aren't strong writers, I would suggest that we think about communication. Males have invented the language of math, the structures of all sorts of scientific and technical communication. Males perhaps fail at writing about the space shuttle but do a pretty effective job communicating its creation, assembly and usage! Who could build a skyscraper without using the tools of communication created by males that describes its creation?

      September 17, 2012 at 11:32 am |
      • GT66

        Weak male writing skills: what this study and articles about it miss is that writing is not always the same as communication.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:35 am |
      • Patrick Lewis

        White males aren't strong writers? Centuries of literary history and even the contemporary writing establishment would like to have many well written words with you on this point.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:38 am |
      • Adrian

        He said 'while males' Patrick not white males. Clearly reading comprehension isn't your forte.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Patrick Lewis

      That is, to use a loaded term, prejudicial. To use a less loaded term, it's simplistic and a post-hoc rationalization. There is NO good reason for this just as there is no excuse for someone who is good at math but is otherwise neuro-typical to be a poor communicator. Maybe math people concentrate more on Math, but there is no reason that has to lead to scores less than sufficient in English unless we purposefully let these kids slide.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  40. ted

    That's hardly a gap not much of a spread.
    Did you use Valedictorians for the study? That would have been more telling.
    Or how about College students majoring in Literature?

    Parents can be more lenient to Boys, so they don't browbeat their studies as hard as they do the Girls.

    I'm on a first name basis with my daughters friends, they almost think I'm real cool. They come and go, my girls are free to socialize, their friends raid the fridge like they are home. They forget that I can be an over baring Ogre when I feel the girls school work is suffering, it can clear the house like a redneck PaPa getting the shotgun.

    But that's the rules, they have to earn the right to "Chill with friends." though their school work and performance.

    I get the feeling, the Parents of Boys are just fine that their Boys are out running the roads, Chilling hither and yon, unabated. When I ask them about their School work, I often get a mediocre response.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Teddy

      Wait till my boy beats your girl !

      September 17, 2012 at 11:38 am |
      • Miriam

        The biggest problem is in the fact that being an intelligent boy is perceived by the other boys as being somehow "girly". Having raised a boy who LIKED reading (because we started reading aloud when he was little), he'd have to hide the books he was reading (like the Tao Te Ching, books about Watergate, autobiographies of everyone from Teddy Roosevelt to Malcom X) inside the covers of books his peers thought it was OK to read (like sports oriented books) so that he wouldn't be taunted, or wore, beaten up and his books thrown in the toilet. He'd do his homework but rarely turn it in. Failing to turn in homework would often get him sent to in-house suspension, where he was free to read all day without anyone bothering him, so that was a major bonus.

        It's not the teachers' fault. It's not the school's fault. It's our entire culture of wanting men to avoid being considered less manly at all costs (how many men do you know who are willing to wear pink or purple? That's a very minor thing; they are just colors).

        The teachers either couldn't or wouldn't stop it; other parents denied their kids were at fault. Want boys to do well in school? Make it OK for boys to succeed at academics, the way it's OK to succeed in sports.

        September 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
    • Johnny

      I agree with Miriam.

      September 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
      • A. Dixon

        This has been mentioned a few times and I feel that it has hit the nail on the head. The problem is not that we have too many "girl" books in school. The fact is that if you have even looked on Amazon or in a Barnes & Nobel, there and hundred's of thousands of books from baking apple pies to ritual killings and everything in between. Boys have a huge selection of reading material, our literary world is not dominated by pink fluff and Hello Kitty.

        The problem is that reading and writing are seen as "girl" activites and we no longer encourage boys to partake in them. We live in a very gendered society and we just don't encourage boys to read outside of the classroom. Boys no longer get lost in stories of pirates and monsters, they would much rather play a video game or watch a movie based on the book. If we want boys to have better scores, we must encourage them to read more. Required reading is part of the educational experience (I hated Moby Dick, I mean HATED it because I though the message of the internal struggle was lost in whaling detail which is so removed from modern culture that it dilutes the story...I succesfully, argued in my final paper, that it was a book about whaling) and sometimes we must read things that don't interest us to discover things that do (I really got into the history of whaling after reading Moby Dick). This is part of the real world and there is nothing wrong with a student reading a book they don't want to. If we only allowed students to do and learn what they want, only 5 people would ever choose to learn Calculus and we would be nowhere, fast.

        If you want boys to read more, stop it with the "masculine vs. sissy" dichotomy and just let kids explore whatever interest them.

        September 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  41. Politically Incorrect

    I am 77 years old and retired after a long and happy career at a very large aircraft manufacturer in southern ca.,about 20 or so years ago I listened to a fellow employee complain about the quality of education at a local high school.His daughter made a`s and a plus`s,his son barely made c`s,his conclusion,his son had stupid teachers.A few months later I stopped for a beer at the local watering hole,at near by table i noticed the same person ,and overheard him bragging about his son`s athletic ability and sports knowledge,his son was going to be a great ball player,he knew this because he made the boy practice 2-4 hours every day.I started to really pay attention after that and noticed it repeated many times over the next 20 years or so.The teachers can not compete with a Fathers bragging rights to his drinking buddy`s about his son`s future as a sports hero.The teachers do not stand a chance.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • MarkinFL

      As I've always said, its not the teacher, its the parents/home life. There some bad teachers but there are MANY useless parents.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:27 am |
      • Teddy

        Nope, a majority of the Chicago school district teachers are really bad. Their average salary is ~$75,000/year and now they even want a 16% salary increment along with the job security.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:42 am |
      • Damon

        Always remember this... you need a license to own a gun or get a dog but you don't need to be licensed to have children. Any pair of idiots can make it happen whether they're prepared to handle the job or not. Therein lies the problem.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  42. Tim

    I find this statement remarkable:

    "According to the board, performances varied by race, ethnicity, gender, school location and other factors, such as parents’ educational attainment. But the mostnotable achievement gap was between males and females in both eighth and 12 th grades"

    September 17, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Which part? Personally, I noticed that they used the word "notable" not "largest".

      September 17, 2012 at 11:29 am |
  43. cafecomm

    I wish they'd told that to Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, Robert Heinlein, Stephen King... wow, there are a lot of men who write extremely well, aren't there?

    Girls tend to be more literate than boys. Boys tend to excell at other skills. This is news? I wish the writer had taken the opportunity to remark about a program or initiative that would see teachers help to equalize the scores (the writer only discussed writing – I'm sure boys tended to excell at a different skill) so that both genders appreciated the advantages of both skillsets and both were encouraged to stretch their abilities.

    Leaving the discussion at "girls are better than boys" was lazy and missed a terrific opportunity to write something worthwhile. That's not how to pursue a Pulitzer, egghead.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Besides the fact that this is hardly Pulitzer material; it was specifically about writing, not about gender gaps in general.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  44. Ryan

    Who cares about writing? Yawwnnn... Bet most of the 8th grade boys could write a better article than 90% of the ones on CNN.

    September 17, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  45. Boo

    My mother always told me women are smarter than men...

    September 17, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Teddy

      Only smart, till they get married.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  46. rasko41

    Despite the disclaimer, someone will still likely think himself a genius, pointing out that the percents don't add up to 100.

    September 17, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  47. Ron

    10th paragraph before we find out which gender scored higher. Might be a record.

    September 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • MarylandBill

      Which is bad style in writing news articles. In my Journalism classes, it was always stressed to provide the most important information first. The reason was simple, the editor might trim for length and given a tight deadline, it was much easier if the editor could just chop paragraphs off the end of the article than send the article back to be rewritten.

      Granted though, this was also before layout and stuff was done on computers. We would get galleys back from the printer, and sometimes we would literally use scissors to cut the article.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • PokerBeing

      First sentence says "When it comes to writing, girls are better than boys." Maybe you should have your READING skills tested.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |
      • MarkinFL

        Heck, I knew the answer before I clicked on the headline. Pretty common knowledge, this is just another reflection of it.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  48. Brenda

    If you want your child to be a good writer, they must first be a good and prolific reader. If you want your child to be a good and prolific reader, they need good examples. Children learn what they see and what they experience. Read to your children. Let them see you reading. It's that simple.

    September 17, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Sandra Akin

      If you want your child to be a better writer, make sure your pronouns agree with their antecedents!

      September 17, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Monica

      My boys aren't great writer's but are excellent readers. Both are above grade level in reading AND reading comprehension. That is one of the things that baffles us about the 7 year old when we had teacher parent conferences. We tried working on it with him but he just detests writing! He reads all types of books at home and reads the stories over and over again!

      September 17, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • D

        I don't think reading the same stuff over and over again is as good as reading new things.

        September 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  49. Politically Incorrect

    The boys Fathers most likely made them spend all their time at home living some type of ball game,so daddy has something to brag about at his faverite so called sports bar,how great his son is at sports,of course the boy cannot read,write , or count above 20 ,miner details,thats the teachers fault.LOL

    September 17, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Aaron Riddle

      I'm enjoying the irony of your inability to spell minor as you rant about the inability of others to read and write.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Aaron Riddle

      You also can't spell favorite and your grammar is absolutely atrocious.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:48 am |
      • LarryB

        He can't spell or use punctuation properly because he's a guy. Hmm, so am I. Maybe I should spell some werds rong and use some improper apostrophe's so's I can fit in with the rest of youse thug's.

        September 17, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Chris

      I more or less agreed with you until you threw the entire Miner's Union under the bus. What did they do? Oh you meant minor... Your father must have bought you a football as a child.

      September 17, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  50. Mary Leonhardt

    To help children be good writers you first have to develop in them a love of reading. Since more girls are likely to love reading than boys, it is not surprising that they test as better writers. By reading many books, children acquire a sense of written language that is impossible to teach. Children who don't read much write oral language. In oral language we use simpler sentences, and don't have to spell or punctuate.

    Reading is the input for writing. To ignore it is the same as ignoring a hearing loss when trying to remediate a speech problem.

    September 17, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • cammm

      why exactly is it that girls are more likely to love reading then boys? I guess some type of evidence to support what seems to be opinion would be helpful

      September 17, 2012 at 10:17 am |
      • Karl

        I don't know, but maybe for girls reading is more of a social activity than it is for boys. There's nothing like peer pressure in a good way.

        September 17, 2012 at 10:23 am |
      • ChrisVC

        Well at least one piece of anecdotal evidence would be to go to the Young Adult section of a Barnes and Noble. YA section at the B&N near me appears to be about 80% – 90% books written by women and targeted at tween/teenage girls. Also the sci-fi section (my preferred area) is about 70% – 80% fantasy (which seems to be preferred by women/girls) and written by over 50% women. The point being, that there is distinctly less being written for boys/men in the YA/Sci-fi(fantasy) genre these days, so there is little to draw males into reading those genres, which can often be a gateway to the general male population of reading fiction (and non-fiction), and thus, less of a desire to write fostered by that reading.

        September 17, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Karl

      Well said! We noticed huge improvements in our daughter's writing ability not long after she became an avid reader. (She was a late bloomer with respect to enjoying books–reading was a chore throughout elementary school and early middle school. Oh, the tears we had over those miserable "reading logs.") However, as soon as she developed some friendships with girls who liked to read, her interest in reading really took off. I hear the girls constantly tell each other things like, "This is the BEST book–you HAVE to read it!!"

      September 17, 2012 at 10:19 am |
      • MarkinFL

        My daughter is also one of those book "pushers". She gets genuinely excited when she finds a peer that has read the same books and always pushes her friends to read her latest "find". And many of her friends do the same. Pity the poor boy that happens to be reading the same book, they just can't seem to relate to whole emotional level the girls have with it.

        September 17, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • wondering999

      Girls also seem to like to become involved in creating "what if?" tales based on their favorite TV shows, movies, books, etc. Starting around age 13 vast numbers of girls are writing "fan fiction". There are many sites where such fiction is posted, such as

      September 17, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • FOIA Guy

      Are we to conclude the longer students stay in the American public school system, the dumber they get?

      September 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Actually, I'm apparently in the smaller percentage of males that became seriously hooked on reading at an early age. However, it had the opposite affect you suggest it might have had. I was far too critical of my own writing skills since I could recognize a well written story or article and realized that my feeble attempts effectively "stunk" (to put it politely) by comparison. I was loathe to turn in anything that did not meet my own standards which were pretty much beyond my ability.

      September 17, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • drk


      You aren't in the right section. Go to the fantasy section where the books based on video games are located. That's where the boy readers get their books.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Tesla

        Because we all know that the books based off of games in general are crap. I mean, it's not like The Horus Heresy or Ciaphas Cain novels in the Warhammer 40,000 setting are considered good works of science fiction. And it's not like video games take good stories and make them their own, like various works of Tom Clancy. I mean, games are just about a plumber jumping on turtles still, right?

        High adventure science fiction and fantasy. Dark science fiction and fantasy. Sci-fi and fantasy horror. Military fiction (Heck, military history). Sports fiction. Crime Drama. These are very male oriented genres, and they are very underrepresented in schools. That is a fact. Your "video game" comment is only close to accurate because modern gaming recognizes this and builds blockbuster games in these genres to attract the still dominant male 16-30 demographic.

        If schools had less Jane Austen and more Tom Clancy (who's works are more relevant in the modern world, regardless of his writing ability), males would be reading for school more. As for you, I think you should do some homework too. I want you to either download or buy Fallout 1 & 2, Planescape: Torment, and Deus Ex. That should do it for your assignment. I hope they give you a better appreciation for the literary quality of videogame storytelling, when it's done right.

        September 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  51. puji harmoko

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    September 17, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • dm6418

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      September 17, 2012 at 11:49 am |