The Washington Assessment of Student Learning scores show 10th grade boys far behind girls in two of three subjects WASL tests for – reading and writing. However, we should not get overly exercised about that point. Boys are always going to be behind girls in reading and writing because they are not hard-wired for a lot of communication. Girls are.
Boys gradually pick up better communication skills when they have to – when they go to college or get a job. I wonder what the scores would be like if the WASL tested for math, science, history, political science and economics. Would the boys be as far behind or would they be roughly at parity with girls or perhaps slightly ahead?
When I went to public school I was a class clown until the latter part of the 10th grade. It wasn’t until I hit my junior year that I really started to consider the reality that I might want to go to college someday and, if so, I would need to start hitting the books.
The pernicious aspect of the WASL as it currently is constructed is that it tests boys in their predominantly weak areas of reading and writing, which turn out to be the girls’ strong suit. So boys are made to look dumber than girls.
Which brings me to my overall concern with current public education as it applies to boys and girls: Too often we are pounding our kids like square pegs into round holes.
As conservatives, we believe in building on individuals’ strengths, not piling on their weaknesses. Kids emerging from public education should feel good about themselves in some academic area(s). That will propel them toward college or a good job.