Image from CDC on Unsplash

Boys in Washington State are

Behind in Educational Outcomes

August 1, 2021

by Sean Kullman

Global Initiative for Boys & Men analyzed nearly 2 million test results from Washington State's Smarter Balance Assessment Testing (SBAC) in English/Language Arts (ELA) and Math from the 2014-15 to the 2017-18 academic years for grades 3-8.

Data revealed boys are behind girls at every grade level, from 8% to 14%, in meeting advance/proficient scores in ELA. Boys also fall behind girls in Math in grades 6 through 8 from 1% to 3.5%.

See appendix for larger view.

The data above is consistent with a recent report on California education by the Global Initiative for Boys & Men. One of the concerns is the Boy Gender-Gap is larger in later grades on state testing in Washington and California in English/Language Arts. The Boy Gender-Gap in Washington for grades 3-5 is 7.96% to 10.62%. For grades 6-8, the gap increase to 12% to 14% for boys. A similar trend was noticed in California, where the Boy Gender-Gap in ELA for grades 3-5 was 8% to 10% and 12% to 13% for grades 6-8.

National data trends the same way as boys make up fewer high school graduates and fewer college attendees and graduates.

Although results showed that boys in Washington State progressed more slowly than girls in ELA by significant margins and never crossed the threshold of 60% for advanced/proficient scores, the Boy Gender-Gap continued to widen in later grades, a common educational trend that may partly explain the impact in high school graduation rates and college readiness.

Longitudinal Look ELA

GIBM did a longitudinal look at the scores of nearly 240,000 third to fifth grade students by sex and compared them to outcomes three years later. In other words, GIBM looked at outcomes of student scores three years later when:

  • 3rd graders became 6th graders

  • 4th graders became 7th graders

  • 5th graders became 8th graders

Boys were consistently behind and showed greater deficits than their female counterparts over three years.

Longitudinal Look Math

GIBM performed the same data analysis in Math SBAC tests. While boys and girls showed declines in Math from 2014 to 2017, fifth grade girls were the only group with an increase in a longitudinal outcome (2.3%) by 8th grade. The data also revealed boys in all groups had a larger disparity than girls from 2014 to 2017 at all grade levels in the analysis.

These disparities speak to a larger concern regarding the ways boys and girls learn and the continuing challenges boys face.

It should be noted that the largest skill deficit for boys happened in 8th grade, where boys fell behind in ELA and Math by 14% and 3.6% respectively. More than ever, state testing is essential if we hope to better understand the different challenges boys and girls face, as well as the successes, in meeting and exceeding academic standards and acquiring the essential skills for a work force that is moving heavily toward a knowledge based economy.

GIBM encourages others to evaluate test scores in their state using GIBM templates and forward their findings to us at

Appendix of Tables

Ways to donate to the Global Initiative for Boys and Men

  • Credit Card Donation through Pay Pal and Donorbox

  • Amazon Smiles: List Global Initiative for Boys and Men as your charity of choice and a percentage of all purchases will support the GIBM.

  • Mail checks to Global Initiative for Boys and Men, Mailbox 337, 685 Spring St., Friday Harbor, WA 98250