The New York Times blog reports something that has long been perfectly obvious to any parent with a child in a New York City Gifted and Talented Program:
Around the city, the current crop of gifted kindergartners... is 56 percent girls.... Why more girls than boys enter the programs is unclear, though there are some theories. Among the most popular is the idea that young girls are favored by the standardized tests the city uses to determine admission to gifted programs, because they tend to be more verbal and socially mature at ages 4 and 5 when they sit for the hour long exam.
The fact that more girls than boys score above the 90th percentile cut-off (for details, see: What Qualifies a Child as Gifted in New York City) is undeniable.
The question remains, what to do about it?
One solution is to do nothing at all and continue pretending that a score achieved on a standardized test taken on a random day during a child's fourth year is completely indicative of their entire future academic performance.
Another is to set up different measuring scales for boys and girls. Intelligence tests are already adjusted by age (often in three month intervals, sometimes right down to the day), why not control for gender, as well?
And finally, if, as the NYT blog speculates: Whatever might be keeping young boys from entering gifted programs at equal rates might also be what can cause stumbles once they get in. For some of the boys, “their social and emotional development is not at the same level as their intellectual development,” said Donna Taylor, the principal of the Brooklyn School of Inquiry. She estimated that she spent about half her day helping her kindergarten and first-grade boys as they ran into trouble with issues like collaboration, self-control and sharing... then why not consider single-sex gifted programs?
Much research has been done on the benefits of single sex education (in a public school setting) for both girls and boys (studies have shown single sex schools to be particularly beneficial to lower-income and African-American boys, two demographics public schools have had a historically hard time teaching and recruiting into G&T programs).
What do you think? Is there a problem here? And what's the solution?