Having more girls in school could help boost boys’ educational performance, according to a recent study. The research investigated how the school environment influenced boys’ and girls’ educational performance in secondary schools.
Studying the reading test scores of more than 2,00,000 15-year-olds from over 8,000 mixed-sex schools around the world, researchers discovered that boys’ performance was significantly better in schools where more than 60% of the pupils were girls.
The implication is that higher the number of girls in the school, the more productive the learning environment. Since boys have previously been shown to be strongly influenced by the school learning environment, they are therefore more likely to benefit from having a higher numbers of girls in their school.
The authors suggested that characteristics more commonly associated with girls’ academic behaviour, such as higher levels of concentration and motivation to perform well, may help to explain their positive influence. With reading an essential skill which can influence performance in other subject areas, the findings reveal the importance of gender equality in schools.
However, the authors call for further research to establish how far the school-level discrepancies are replicated within the classroom, and whether the differences are present in other subject areas. The study is published in School Effectiveness and School Improvement.