Why Focusing on Test Metrics May Impede Gender Equity: Policy Insights

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accountability policies incentivize school districts to close achievement gaps on standardized tests of math and reading, but these policies omit one prominent student dimension: gender. According to the “mixed” evidence on male–female gender gaps in math test scores, a gap advantaging males may be opening early in elementary school, but the dominant evidence—standardized testing—does not reveal this emergence. In contrast to math, the evidence for the reading gender gap favoring females is clearer, but there too the apparent female advantage may not be as large as it seems. Looking across well-established large-scale tests in math and reading, this article looks to explain why some gender gaps emerge and how policymakers can help mitigate the gaps. One of the most consistent predictors of gaps in both math and reading is gender bias. Focusing on gender gaps in tests is counterproductive to actual gender equity in education, which will require a much stronger focus on uncovering and addressing gender bias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • achievement gaps
  • education policy
  • gender
  • gender bias
  • tests

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration


Dive into the research topics of 'Why Focusing on Test Metrics May Impede Gender Equity: Policy Insights'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this