In a recent report on gender, economic mobility and college success, a team of Columbia and Ohio State University researchers have concluded that they have seen the future, and it doesn’t look good for boys.
In their paper, found here and reported in the NY Times here, they assert that eighth grade report cards tell the story: if an 8th grader gets A’s and B’s, that student will likely earn a college degree. If he or she gets B’s and C’s, he or she is much less likely to complete college. By the 8th grade, girls are already well outpacing the boys academically on a national basis, which the researchers believe explains why women have had much greater success than men in completing their college degrees.
The researchers’ rationale behind using 8th grades as predictors is that social and behavioral skills, which are key to academic success in college, are established by 8th grade. The gap in these skills between girls and boys starts in kindergarten and widens through 5th grade. The researchers believe this gap to be “considerably larger” than the gap between children from poor and middle class families and the gap between black and white children.
This study aligns with what we at GCP have been talking about for years now: it is very important that our sons get and stay focused academically at an early age, and we parents have to do all within our power to support and help them in this effort. For those of us with sons who bombed the 8th grade; do not despair, all is not lost. Boys can and do get it together in high school, but they need attention and focus to make sure they are making their best efforts. This is a wake up call for all of us to focus not only on our individual sons’ performance, but on what needs to be done with a national school system that produces such lopsided results.