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Gender and Student Achievement in English Schools

  • Stephen Machin
  • Sandra McNally

The widening gap between the average educational achievement of boys and girls has been the subject of much discussion. This gap is especially controversial for students taking national exams at the end of their compulsory education. However, the gender gap is also apparent at earlier and at later stages of education. In this paper, we analyse changes over time in the gender achievement gap at the different stages of compulsory education. We first use a combination of data sources to paint a picture of how gender gaps have evolved over time and in what context they are most marked. Then we consider possible explanations for the observed gender gaps. We look at the relevance of school inputs, teaching practice and the examination system for explaining the gender gap. We also discuss the potential influence of wider social and economic changes as reflected, for example, in the much higher education of mothers relative to those of previous generations. Analysis of this issue is important in the context of research on the gender wage gap. However, it is also raises policy-relevant issues in relation to whether changes in the school system can effect a change in the gender gap in educational achievement.

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Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0058.

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Date of creation: Feb 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0058
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