For all its disruptions, the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t affect the “significant achievement gap between boys and girls” in Cayman Islands public schools.
According to the Education Data Report 2020, Year 11 girls in Cayman’s public schools again outperformed Year 11 boys on standardised exams, in both English and Mathematics, as well as in terms of meeting the ‘national expectation’ of achieving 5 or more Level 2 passes (including English and Maths).
This is the second in a series of stories analysing the Data Report.
In the Spring 2020 standardised exams, 91% of girls passed English, compared to 76% of boys, while 63% of girls passed Maths, compared to 51% of boys.
Overall, 63% of girls met the national expectation, compared to 48% of boys.
Noting that “the sluggish rate of growth of mathematics” has an “overall limiting effect” on students achieving the national expectation, the report authors state, “Urgent attention should be given to the development of appropriate and comprehensive strategies directed at improving students’ attainment.”
Since 2016, the number of girls passing English has increased by 11 percentage points, while the number of boys passing English has increased by 29 percentage points.
In 2016, the performance gap between girls and boys was 33 percentage points, compared to 15 points in 2020.
Since 2016, the number of girls passing Maths has increased by 15 percentage points, compared to 18 points for boys.
In 2016, the performance gap between girls and boys was 15 percentage points, compared to 12 points in 2020.
The report states, “It [is] noteworthy also that there is evidence of growth over time in all performance categories for both males and females. However, there is little evidence that this gap is closing year on year. Therefore, it is incumbent upon schools and classroom practitioners to refocus efforts aimed at closing this gender gap by identifying and developing innovative and effective solutions.”
Disparities in performance between males and females are a heavily studied topic in education globally. The gaps differ from region to region, and from test to test.
For example, girls tend to outperform boys on standardised tests in the Caribbean. Additionally, on the UK-administered GCSEs, girls have historically outperformed boys by anywhere from 8 to 10 percentage points in terms of Level 2 passes.
In terms of high school GPAs, girls tend to have better classroom grades than boys overall, including in Maths.
However, on the US SATs, boys have outperformed girls in Maths for decades.
And on the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), boys tend to score better than girls in Maths, while girls tend to score better than boys in Reading. (That includes UK boys having better scores in Maths than UK girls, despite the GCSE results.)
But in the countries that score highest in Maths on the PISA (such as China, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan and Finland), the gender gap tends toward zero.
For further reading on this topic, here is a 2015 research paper from Cambridge Assessment, the provider of iGCSE exams taken by students in Cayman.
Read the Cayman Islands Education Report 2020 here: