Teachers in Pinellas County, Florida are working this year toward closing the reading gap between girls and boys, paying closer attention to how their lessons engage boys.
At Sutherland Elementary last year, principal Kristy Cantu noticed a trend in her school that is prevalent nationwide. Boys lag behind girls in reading proficiency.
“It was noticeable enough that we wanted to address it,” Cantu said.
Scores showed that the divide begins in third grade, and in 2017 the results showed a gap of nearly 10 percentage points.
Since other elementary schools in the district had the same issue, Pinellas County executive director of elementary education Shana Rafalski pulled principals together, including Cantu.
According to Rafalski, the long term goal is to increase the boys’ high school graduation rate. In 2016 76 percent of boys graduated from high school in Pinellas County, in comparison to 84 percent of the girls.
“If we can not let that happen at the very front end, you’re not closing a gap if it never existed,” Rafalski said.
The principals created a rubric of “gender equity self-reflection” so that teachers would be more aware of the impact of their lessons on boys. Schools with wide gaps are required to include it in school improvement plans this year.