Good behavior in school helps girls get higher grades: study

Fri Jan 4, 2013 6:59pm EST
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By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - American elementary school teachers reward girls with higher grades for behaving better in class than boys and for paying attention, according to a new study that may be the first of its kind in comparing grades, standardized tests and behavior.

Gender differences in grades emerge early and favor girls in all subject areas, said the report, which will be published in the Journal of Human Resources later this month.

The study analyzed U.S. classroom data for more than 5,800 kindergarten through fifth grade students on standardized tests, grades given by teachers and so-called "non-cognitive skills" such as a student's eagerness to learn and focus.

The data revealed a gender gap between school grades and standardized tests.

Boys often received lower grades even though they scored higher than girls on standardized tests in the same subject, said Christopher Cornwell, head of economics at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business and one of the study's co-authors.

Girls received higher grades than would have been predicted by their standardized test scores because teachers rated them higher on non-cognitive skills, Cornwell said in an interview.

Cornwell said he believes the report is the first to offer statistical evidence that teachers reward girls with better grades for their good behavior.

"You even see evidence that teachers reward boys, give something like a grade bonus to boys, who have behaviors that are like girls," said Cornwell.   Continued...