Girls Get Better Grades Because Teachers Like Them More, Says New Research

There's a reason that girls get higher grades than boys in school, according to a new study of elementary students: They're better behaved. 

The research, out of the University of Georgia and Columbia University in New York City, looked at reading, math and science standardized test scores of students from kindergarten to fifth grade. What it showed: Boys' grades were lower than what their tests would indicate they would learn in all three subjects, according to ScienceDaily. And what mattered most to teachers when grading was something called "approaches to learning."

"[It's] a rough measure of what a child's attitude toward school is," study co-author Christopher Cornwell tells Science Daily. "It includes six items that rate the child's attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization. I think that anybody who's a parent of boys and girls can tell you that girls are more of all of that." 

Um, yeah. If you've spent more than five minutes in an elementary school classroom, you know that the gender behavior disparity isn't exactly a newsflash. During one recent volunteer session at my daughter's school, I had to help seven kids -- three girls and four boys -- plan their second grade newsletter. The girls -- one of them my daughter -- sat, ate their lunch, offered ideas and took notes. They still giggled and chatted and but, for the most part, paid attention. The boys? They immediately began writing comments about each other in their notebooks (and, yes, they were hilarious, but that's not the point), were running around in circles and must have asked me 237 times when they could leave for the playground.

Cornwell agrees:"My argument is that this has always been true about boys and girls," he tells the website. "Girls didn't all of a sudden become more engaged and boys didn't suddenly become more rambunctious. Their attitudes toward learning were always this way."

But, he says, we just didn't see it as glaringly in the past because girls and women were held back in all sorts of ways down the road. So the silver lining is that girls are achieving more -- we just need to find ways to help boys succeed in school, too.   

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