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ERIC Number: EJ871725
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Feb
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 39
ISSN: ISSN-1081-3004
The Problem of Boys' Literacy Underachievement: Raising Some Questions
Watson, Anne; Kehler, Michael; Martino, Wayne
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, v53 n5 p356-361 Feb 2010
Boys' literacy underachievement continues to garner significant attention and has been identified by journalists, educational policymakers, and scholars in the field as the cause for much concern. It has been established that boys perform less well than girls on literacy benchmark or standardized tests. According to the National Assessment of Education Progress (2009), female students consistently score higher than boys on average in both reading and writing. This trend is supported by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test results. In 2006, the largest gender gap was found in reading. Girls on average outperformed boys in this area in all of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Test scores and achievement gaps such as the ones described here have been used to create a sense of "moral panic" concerning boys' literacy skills and engagement. In this paper, the authors express some concerns about the ways in which boys' literacy underachievement is defined and taken up within a context that continues to represent all boys as victims or as the "new disadvantaged." The authors argue for the need to engage with literature and analytic perspectives that are capable of addressing the complex interplay between various social, cultural, and institutional factors--such as gender, social class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality--that affect both boys' and girls' engagement with literacy. They also draw attention to the implications associated with movements to reclaim schooling as a masculine domain and suggest pedagogical rather than structural reforms.
International Reading Association. 800 Barksdale Road, P.O. Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139. Tel: 800-336-7323; Fax: 302-731-1057; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Program for International Student Assessment