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Executive Summary

Academic Preparation and Achievement

Reading, Mathematics, and Science Achievement

At the 4th- and 8th-grade levels in 2011, higher percentages of females than males scored at or above Proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment. For example, at the 8th-grade level, 38 percent of females scored at or above Proficient, compared to 29 percent of males. This pattern by sex was found for all racial/ethnic groups except for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders in the 4th grade and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/ Alaska Natives in the 8th grade. In 2009, the most recent year for which 12th-grade NAEP data were available, a higher percentage of 12th-grade females than males scored at or above Proficient in reading (43 vs. 32 percent). This pattern was also found for White, Black, and Hispanic 12th-graders.

In 2011, some 40 percent of 4th-graders and 35 percent of 8th-graders scored at or above the Proficient level on the NAEP mathematics assessment. In 2009, the most recent year for which 12th-grade NAEP data were available, some 26 percent of 12th-graders scored at or above the Proficient level in mathematics. In both the 4th and 8th grades, higher percentages of males than females scored at or above Proficient on the mathematics portion of NAEP in 2011. For example, at the 4th-grade level,42 percent of males scored at or above Proficient, compared to 39 percent of females. This pattern was also found for White and Hispanic students in the 4th grade and for White students in the 8th grade. In contrast, a lower percentage of 8th-grade Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander males (17 percent) than females (28 percent) scored at or above Proficient in mathematics. Among the remaining racial/ethnic groups, the percentages of males and females scoring at or above Proficient did not measurably differ at either grade level. Among 12th-graders in 2009, higher percentages of males than females scored at or above Proficient on the NAEP mathematics assessment. This pattern was also found for White and Hispanic students.

In 2009, at all three grade levels, a higher percentage of males than females scored at or above Proficient on the NAEP science assessment. This pattern by sex held among White students in the 4th grade and among White, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/ Alaska Native students in the 8th grade. It also held among White and Hispanic students in the 12th grade: 32 percent of White males scored at or above Proficient, compared with 22 percent of White females; and 11 percent of Hispanic males scored at or above Proficient, compared with 6 percent of Hispanic females.

Eighth-Grade Algebra

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 199899 (ECLS-K) assessed students' mathematics achievement in elementary and middle school and collected information from students' mathematics teachers on their mathematics coursetaking in 8th grade. Of the students who scored in the top half of the ECLS-K 5th-grade mathematics assessment in the spring of 2004, 58 percent went on to enroll in algebra or a more advanced mathematics course in 8th grade in the spring of 2007. A higher percentage of males than females scored in the top half of the ECLS-K 5th-grade mathematics assessment (54 vs. 46 percent); however, of students that scored in the top half, a lower percentage of males than females went on to enroll in algebra or a more advanced course in 8th grade (51 vs. 66 percent). Among males who scored in the top half of the 5th-grade assessment, the percentage of Black students enrolled in algebra or an advanced course other than algebra by 8th grade (20 percent) was lower than the percentages of Asian (92 percent), White (54 percent), and Hispanic (51 percent) students enrolled.

Advanced Placement Exams and College Entrance Exams

In May 2010, about 58 percent of students who took an Advanced Placement (AP) exam received a score of 3 or higher in at least one subject area. A higher percentage of males than females received a score of 3 or higher on any AP exam (61 percent vs. 54 percent). This pattern held across all racial/ethnic groups. Among males, 69 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders received a score of 3 or higher, compared with 67 percent of White students, 48 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students, 44 percent of Hispanic students, and 29 percent of Black students.

In 2011, some 25 percent of all students who took the ACT met or exceeded the ACT college readiness score in all four subject areas (English, mathematics, reading, and science). A higher percentage of males than females (28 vs. 22 percent) achieved all four ACT college benchmark scores. This pattern held across all racial/ethnic groups. Higher percentages of males than females achieved the four benchmark scores within the Asian (44 vs. 37 percent), White (35 vs. 28 percent), Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (18 vs. 12 percent), Hispanic (14 vs. 9 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (14 vs. 10 percent), and Black (5 vs. 4 percent) racial/ethnic groups.

Averaged Freshman Graduation Rates

The averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR) estimates the proportion of public high school freshmen who graduate with a regular diploma2 4 years after starting 9th grade. The AFGR for the class of 200809 was 75.5 percent. A lower percentage of males than females graduated with a regular diploma (71.8 vs. 78.9 percent). This pattern was also found for Whites (78.9 vs. 84.0 percent), Blacks (57.3 vs. 69.3 percent), Hispanics (60.3 vs. 69.7 percent), Asians/Pacific Islanders (88.0 vs. 93.1 percent), and American Indians/Alaska Natives (60.5 vs. 67.7 percent) in the class of 200809. The AFGRs for males were also lower than the AFGRs for females across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Figure 4. Averaged freshman graduation rate (AFGR) in public schools, by race/ethnicity and sex: 200809

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2 Regular diploma recipients are students who meet or exceed the coursework and performance standards for high school completion established by a state or another relevant authority. Other high school completers who were awarded alternate credentials such as a certificate of completion or an equivalency credential are not included in the AFGR calculations because they are not considered regular graduates.

  
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