Common Core Can Close Gender Achievement Gap?

University of Miami President Donna Shalala penned an op/ed for the Miami Herald claiming that the Common Core can close the achievement gap for girls.

She wrote:

With Common Core’s more engaging and challenging standards, we can narrow the gender achievement gap that begins early and worsens by eighth grade, particularly for black and Hispanic girls. Through better K-12 academic preparation, we can lower the number of female students and students of color taking remedial college courses. We know that even in our technology-saturated age, too many girls still don’t have enough access to rigorous coursework in science, technology, engineering and math.

That can help remedy a situation where women represent 57 percent of all four-year undergraduate degrees, but just 48 percent of majors in business, 19 percent in computer/information science, 18 percent of engineering, 43 percent in math and statistics and 40 percent in physical sciences.

We know that gender-based disparities in education lead to disparities in employment, meaning a gender pay gap that begins immediately after college leads to a situation where one year after graduation, women on average earn just 82 percent of men’s salaries.

Ok…. I won’t get into the gender pay claim as that isn’t really relevant to what we write about here.  You can read more about that here and here.  Neal McClusky points out, convincingly I might add, that this achievement gap that Shalala cites simply doesn’t exist.

Walk around a random college campus, and the odds are good the first student you’ll run into will be female. 57 percent of college students are women, versus 43 percent men, a 14 point gap. Look at Advanced Placement exams – those College Board tests that enable high-scoring takers to get college credit – and you’ll find that 56 percent of students taking the exams are girls, creating a 13 percent gap favoring women. But fear not! University of Miami president Donna Shalala assures us that the Common Core national curriculum standards will help address the “gender-based inequities” crushing female students.

Um, what?

As the data make (sic) obvious, there is no college-readiness gap unfavorable to women…

….More important, of the two areas the Core tackles, AP-taking suggests women dominate one and hold their own in the other. 62 percent of students taking the AP English exams in 2014 were female, while 48 percent of Calculus AB takers were girls. At the very least, these figures belie any accusations of systematic efforts to exclude women from college-prep courses, even if girls tend to choose different courses than boys.

It’s a myth that Common Core will help close any achievement gap (especially by itself), but it definitely won’t close a nonexistent one.  Also I’m curious how she thinks Common Core, which are math and literacy standards, will push girls into computer science, engineering, business and physical science fields?  They won’t.  The standards don’t address business, science, engineering, or physical science.  They certain don’t push students toward particular career paths. Common Core advocates themselves push STEM fields, but Common Core fails to adequately prepare students for STEM programs in college.

This is one of the weaker cases for the Common Core I’ve seen in awhile.

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