Gender gap at A-level is a myth;Postscript;Letter

27th August 1999 at 01:00
YOU reported that girls have overtaken boys at A-level for the first time, and that the gender gap which opens up at age seven is wider than ever (TES, August 6). Both claims are incorrect.

Analysing A-level results for all subjects over the past six years shows that, adjusting for differences in entry rates, the performance of boys and girls is basically the same.

The largest recent "gap" in favour of girls was in 1995 (and that was only 2 per cent), but by 1996 the gap was zero again. In none of the six years did boys ever gain significantly better results than girls. There goes the first component of the TES crisis story.

Using the figures in The TES, the gap between boys and girls is actually declining as the percentage point difference between them is growing slower than the overall annual increase in exam scores. There goes the second component of the TES crisis story.

Stephen Gorard

School of Social Sciences

Cardiff University YOUR leader "Time for acclaim" (TES, August 20) rightly cites the growing expectations of parents as a reason for improving A-Level results. Parents are better informed about the demands and content of courses and are therefore in a stronger position to help their offspring. This alone could explain a great deal of the trend.

Dr Roger Hancock

School of education, The Open University, Milton Keynes

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