Have schools improved the way they educate girls, or have they just made it harder for boys to succeed?

A new study from the University of Georgia and Columbia University suggests girls get better grades than boys because of their classroom behavior. According to, girls in the study were rated higher on six measures: "the child’s attentiveness, task persistence, eagerness to learn, learning independence, flexibility and organization."

2 comments on this story

Less than two decades ago, researchers were working to help schools better address the needs of girls, who lagged behind, especially in math and science. Girls' quiet, "good" behavior led teachers to ignore them more often and call on them less frequently than their more rambunctious male peers.

One study from 1995 found that "girls receive fewer academic contacts, are asked lower level questions, and are provided less constructive feedback and encouragement than boys — all of which translates into reduced preparation for independent effort."

Now that girls are at the top of the class, questions remain about whether anyone is getting a good education in a school system that prioritizes sitting still, being quiet and taking tests over connection, collaboration, humor and spontaneity.

Gretchen Krebs has taught general and special education in New York and Utah. She is passionate about finding innovative approaches to meet the needs of all students. Contact her at