|Back to December Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 251||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||DECEMBER 2006|
|Teacher's Gender Does Matter|
Dee's study, titled Teachers and the Gender Gaps in Student Achievement (NBER Working Paper No. 11660) is an analysis of data collected in the 1988 National Education Longitudinal Survey (NELS).
Although the survey is dated, Dee studied the NELS because it contains data on a nationally representative sample of nearly 25,000 8th graders from 1,052 public and private schools. It also includes data from two of each student's teachers in two different subjects, allowing an evaluation of the outcomes of each student when paired with two different teachers.
Writing in the Fall 2006 issue of Education Next, Dee described the NELS as "a goldmine of information for those interested in gender dynamics within the classroom."
Among his key findings:
Why the gender difference?
Although Dee's study is being assailed co-president of the National Women's Law Center, Marcia Greenberger, called the data "far from convincing," and NEA president Reg Weaver said student success "cannot be narrowed to the gender of the teacher" -Dee stands by his findings.
He raises the question of whether gender effects could be limited by offering teachers gender-specific training based on evidence supporting the different learning styles of boys and girls, as well as training to overcome gender biases in teacher behavior and expectations.
"My study suggests that gender interactions in the classroom matter, but it is still far from clear exactly why this is so," Dee wrote. "Perhaps the best policy solution is to keep an open mind about a variety of strategies that neither unequivocally endorse single-sex education nor rule it out of order altogether."