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Trends in Educational Equity of Girls and Women: 2004 - Progress through School

Progress through School

Females are less likely than males to repeat a grade and to drop out.

The percentage of 5- to 12-year-old males who had repeated at least one grade declined between 1996 and 1999. In 1999, females ages 5 to 12 years old were less likely than males of the same age to have repeated a grade: approximately 8 percent of males compared to 5 percent of females had repeated a grade since starting school (indicator 11). In recent years, females have also become less likely than males to drop out of high school; for example, in 2001, the status dropout rate for 16- to 24-year-olds (i.e., the percentage who had not completed high school and were not enrolled in school) was 12 percent for males, compared to 9 percent for females (indicator 19). This marks a change from the general pattern in the 1970s, when dropout rates were similar for males and females.

The status dropout rate decreased for both males and females between 1972 and 2001. When examined by sex and race/ethnicity, the dropout rate of White males and females, Black males and females, and Hispanic females decreased during this period, while no decrease was detected for Hispanic males.

Males and females who have a child in high school are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to receive a bachelor's degree (indicator 20). Among females who were eighth-graders in 1988, 71 percent who had a child in high school had completed high school as of 2000, compared to 95 percent who had no child as of 2000. Furthermore, only 2 percent of females who had a child in high school had received a bachelor's degree by 2000, compared to 44 percent of those with no child. Becoming a parent while still in high school was related to the educational attainment of males as well. Males who became fathers in high school were significantly less likely than those who were not fathers, as of 2000, to have completed high school (65 percent vs. 94 percent) and to have received a bachelor's degree (4 percent vs. 36 percent).

On a variety of measures, males seem to be more likely than females to experience serious problems at school and to engage in risky behaviors.

Evidence suggests that females are less likely than males to have certain problems, such as being diagnosed with a learning disability and being victimized at school, which may negatively affect their progress through school (The Condition of Education 1997, NCES 97-388). In 1999, males in grades 1-5 were more likely than females to have been identified as having a disability (21 percent vs. 14 percent, respectively; indicator 12). In particular, males were more likely than females to have been identified with a learning disability, emotional disturbance, and speech impediment.

In 2001, among 12- to 18-year-old students, the percentage of males who reported that they had experienced criminal victimization at school during the previous 6 months was higher than the percentage of females reporting the same experience (6 vs. 5 percent). Similarly, a higher percentage of males than females reported being bullied at school (9 vs. 7 percent, indicator 16).

In addition, female students appear to be less likely than male students to engage in certain behaviors, such as drug use and violence that may put themselves and others at risk. In 2001, females in grades 9-12 were less likely than males to report using alcohol at least once in the previous 30 days on school property (4 vs. 6 percent) as well as in general (45 vs. 49 percent). Likewise, high school females were also less likely than their male counterparts to report using marijuana at least once in the previous 30 days on school property (3 vs. 8 percent) as well as in general (20 vs. 28 percent, indicator 18). The percentage of students who reported being offered or given an illegal drug on school property in the previous 12 months was also lower for females (23 percent) than males (35 percent). Overall, the percentages of students who reported using cigarettes, marijuana, and who were offered, sold, or given an illegal drug on school property decreased between 1997 and 2001. However, there was no decrease detected during this period in the percentage of students who reported using alcohol on school property. Males in these grades were also much more likely than females to engage in certain violent activities on school property; higher percentages of males than females reported being in a physical fight in the previous 12 months (18 percent vs. 7 percent), and carrying a weapon to school in the previous 30 days (10 percent vs. 3 percent; indicator 17).

High school seniors' attitudes toward school have become increasingly negative, particularly among females.

Despite apparent differences in the extent to which females and males experience certain problems as they progress through school, the general attitudes of male and female high school seniors toward school were similar in 2001; 29 percent of females and 30 percent of males reported liking school very much (figure A and indicator 13). This marked a change from 1980, when females were more likely than males to report liking school. It also marked a decline, among both males and females, in these positive attitudes toward school from 1980, when 50 percent of females and 42 percent of males reported liking school very much. This decline occurred at a faster rate for females than for males.


  Progress through School
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education