10th April 2012
Assess the view that gender differences in achievement are largely the result of changes in the education system
There is a lot of compelling evidence to support the view that changes in the education system has resulted in differences in educational achievement between males and females. There is no denying that the statistics show girls are outperforming boys at every level in education, but the question is whether this is largely related to changes in the assessment process and the way each of the genders is educated or whether there are other factors causing the differences. One change that occurred in the education system was the move from the tripartite schooling system to the comprehensive system which involved replacing the 11+ exams with the GCSEs. The 11+ exams consisted of very academic style exams, with no coursework element, while the GCSE’s when first brought into use relied rather heavily on coursework. It is accepted that coursework possibly favours girls and hinders boys due to their development of language in childhood and throughout school. It is intriguing that girls only started outperforming boys at this point, so this would suggest that the reliance on coursework has something to do with the differences in the success of the genders in their results. As stated in Item A, Madsen Pirie of the New Right Adam Smith Institute also believes that the current education system does favour girls, but because of a slightly different reason. Madsen Pirie identifies that within schooling today there is continuous assessment of knowledge through modular exams, which all children sit throughout the year with their results from each one equating to their final grade. This is as opposed to other systems that require just one, or possibly two big exams to be sat at the end of the academic year. Madsen Pirie states that the modules are part of a more systematic approach to examinations, which favours girls. While boys seem to prefer the...
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