Judith Kleinfeld, Ph.D

Math is one of the most important forms of human communication.  It allows humans a fleeting glimpse into God's plan without the emotional baggage which accompanies human thought.  Judith Kleinfeld managed to exclude all known math while including only the emotional baggage in her report "The Myth That Schools Shortchange Girls" http://www.usa.edu/northern or kleinfeldmyth.pdf

A graphic example of the anti-male bias which discredits the entire study is the following:

Her curves do not reflect the 47 SAT Math point difference in median scores between boys and girls in the general population, the 120 SAT Math point difference between boys and girls entering college, nor the 102 point difference between male and female college graduates on the Graduate Record Exam.  Instead, she assumes that the median score is the same, which invalidates the rest of her analysis.   If the SAT and GRE scores were accurate measurements of the ability to apply math and physics principles to problem solving, Gaussian Curves of such socres with a difference of "nearly" a standard deviation would look more like this.

:

 "Among examinees who identify themselves as white and who plan to major in math, science, or engineering, there has been a differences of nearly a standard deviation between the mean mathematics scores of males and females"

Her curves are suspect for eight reasons:

1. While they do reflect the difference in the standard deviation between boys' and girls' scores, they are not the typical Gaussian Distribution which you would expect to see for standardized test scores.
2. The front end of her curves appear to have been distorted to make the "gender gap" between boys and girls look much smaller than Gaussian Curves do.
3. Her presumption that the median scores of boys' and girls' test scores are exact is a red flag in a study whose admitted objective is to discredit a myth which most agree is very worthy of being discredited.
4. She ignores the 47 SAT Math point difference between boys and girls in the general population.
5. She ignores the 120 SAT Math point difference between boys and girls entering math education in college.
6. She uses a compendium of test scores whose political objective was to demonstrate progress in narrowing the "gender gap", while ignoring that, in addition to SAT scores, every other standardized test "still" shows a huge gender gap.
7. She ignores the findings of the TIMSS study (devastating to US education policy) which suggest a very different curve than she used.
8. She ignores or is unaware of the fact that a 490 in SAT Math is indicative of zero math skills.

THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR

While her intentions to prove that boys are shortchanged in schools are good, this author disagrees that such egregious misrepresentations can advance her cause.  But the following comments reveal a bias which virtually invalidates her thesis:

1) "This child is the African-American boy.  This is the group in need of creative policy initiatives"

and

2) "In the general population most sex differences on standardized tests of achievement are small or negligible"

and

e)  "The gap in performance between American men and women in natural sciences and in mathematics is genuine and indeed a cause for concern. But this gender gap, it is also important to recognize, affects the prospects and careers of very few people.  It is far from a monumental social problem."

This is a monumental social problem, alright.  And it's a monumental educational problem.  It exemplifies the tendency of feminists to ignore significant gender differences, trivialize the producers, and focus ALL education resources on the lowest common denominator.  It exemplifies what caused this nation to score DEAD LAST in TIMSS, a fact that she didn't even reference in her study timss.htm dated two years after TIMSS was completed.

CONCEALING THE SEX DIFFERENCES

But it gets worse.  Much worse.

"Consider the largest and most stable sex difference in cognitive abilities--the male advantage in spatial-rotational skills.  This ability, important in advanced mathematical reasoning, has a biological foundation."

Yes it does.  But she didn't quantify this difference, which is a mighty important thing to do in a study claiming to debunk the theory that girls are shortchanged by schools rather than nature.  She instead sought to trivialize it by diverging into a discussion about testosterone which could leave feminists arguing that all they need to do to achieve a similar cognitive ability to boys is go to their gynecologist for some shots.  She ignored what could have been the strongest argument in a study of why it is a myth that schools shortchange girls--boys are different.   Few people know HOW big that difference is, but if she has seen the data, then she does know and should have reported it.  Why, then, fail to note that this cognitive ability is why men have one third as many traffic accidents per mile driven as women, or why men pilots have one fourth as many accidents per mile flown as women pilots? Testosterone shots aren't going to make women better students, drivers, or pilots, so why distract everyone's attention from her main point with such a diversion?  Unfortunately, the only answer can be the lack of integrity so often repeated in feminist "studies".

It is agreed that the schools shortchange boys, and it is agreed that they do so to attempt to establish "equality" between the sexes.  But it is not agreed that "equality" either can nor should be established nor sought after, which is the conclusion of her report.  This is precisely the affirmative-action-think which the voters of California outlawed with Proposition 209.  It is also significant that she referenced neither the effects of affirmative action nor Proposition 209, both of which would have significantly altered her approach and could have made the study far more effective.

FEMINIST LIES

The following statement is a flat out feminist lie which any citizen with an Almanac can easily dispute:

On standardized achievement tests, females typically surpass males in writing ability, reading achievement, and certain other verbal skills while males surpass females in science and mathematics. In the general population of males and females, however, sex differences in achievement tests are typically small---except for the big female advantage in writing.

Males score 47 points higher than females in SAT Math, 13 points higher in SAT Verbal, 1.5 points (or 8.3%) higher in ACT Composite, 2.3 points (12.7%) higher in ACT Math, 1.8 points (10.5%) higher in ACT Social Studies, 2.6 points (12.9%) higher in ACT Natural Science.  On only one test, ACT English, do females score higher than males, and this difference is the smallest difference of all of them (1 point, or 5.5%).

At best, there is a question of which test of writing skills is valid--the SAT Verbal test which shows that boys have a 13 point (5%) advantage, or the ACT English test which shows that girls have a one point (5.5%) advantage.  This is hardly a "big female advantage".  But a close look at any of these curves shows that moving the median of the boys' curve forward by 8-13% (the average of ALL of the rest of the tests) puts a significant percentage of the boys ahead of all the girls.  Even her own odd shaped curve suggests that this would put 2-5% of the boys ahead of all the girls, but the real 47 SAT Math point difference between boys and girls in the general population, coupled with the difference between the standard deviations of boys' and girls' scores is better illustrated by this graph.

Trivializing the differences between boys and girls, ignoring the highest performers, and focusing on the lowest common denominator in order to accomodate girls, is a FAR, FAR cry from "arete" [read: excellence].  Our children deserve, and their parents demand, more than this from public education.

GERRYMANDERING SAT SCORES

Politicized standardized tests seriously mislead us regarding the differences between the sexes in math skills, though. A student taking SAT Math gets 200 points out of 800 just for signing his name. That leaves a possible 600 points. A third of the SAT Math test isn't math at all--they are questions which test memorization only, but not math skills. Anyone who finished high school, paid attention, remembered basic math principles, and correctly answered all memorization questions will get another 200 points in SAT Math. Without even proving that they can apply math principles to problem solving, they already have 400 points. Most of the other two thirds of the test is multiple choice questions. If students just guess on four-answer questions, they will get 25% of them correct, and if they just guess on five-answer questions they will get 20% of them correct, which adds another 90 points to the SAT score before demonstrating any math skills. A student who signs his name, remembers math principles, answers the memorization questions correctly,  guesses on all the actual math questions, but never applies math principles to problem solving, will receive a score of 490 [read: Ground Zero].

What most people don't understand, because it is intentionally concealed from them, is that SAT scores demonstrate that the majority of boys are able to apply math principles to problem solving, but most girls aren't.  A comparison of the the distribution of actual math skills of boys and girls can be made by subtracting all of these other factors, using the SAT Math score of 490 as Ground Zero, considering that the boys' median score is 8 points above Ground Zero and the girls' median score is 35 points below Ground Zero,  to produce this graph.  REMEMBER: both ends of both curves are asymptotic, which means that they theoretically never reach zero.  This graph is consistent with the raw TIMSS data which shows that zero percent of American 12th grade girls were able to apply math principles to problem solving which up to three quarters of the boys in some countries were able to solve.

THE REAL SEX DIFFERENCE

Manipulating standardized tests like this was intended to make American girls look better [read: make American boys look worse]. The raw TIMSS data shows why.  TIMSS scores are normalized so that 410 is equivalent to zero percent of the math questions correct and a score of 800 is equivalent to 100% correct.  In other words, students who got zero percent of the math questions correct [read: understood zero percent of the subject] got a TIMSS score of 410. This is not from the normalized TIMSS score, but from the raw data which shows the percent of questions answered correctly.

American girls received a score of 393 for the TIMSS Mechanics section, 17 points lower than zero percent correct.  How can it be explained that American 12th grade girls consistently scored lower than if they had just guessed?

Kleinfeld writes:

"The enormous achievement gaps in America concern race, not sex."

This ignores that the gap between high achieving males and high achieving females is even bigger than the achievement gaps between races.  It ignores how misleading the standardized tests called "Sat Tests" are.  It ignores the slightly more revealing Graduate Record Exams which report that there is almost a standard deviation difference between boys' and girls' scores in many subjects.  It ignores the more accurate raw data from TIMSS which shows that an average of zero percent of American 12th grade girls correctly applied math and physics principles.

"More variable male scores exaggerate [emphasis added by Kleinfeld] any male advantage at the top."

Kleinfeld makes a big issue of the verbal skills of women, but then cites a completely separate study which used the wrong word, "exaggerate", to describe the male advantage in test scores, and then stresses that word with italics rather than questioning the use of that word, which would have required quotation marks.  This suggests that she is agreeing that "exaggerate" is the correct word, rather than correcting the statement with a more appropriate word.   What is a more appropriate word?  She claims that more males score at both the higher end and the lower end of the curve than females, but this is based on curves with similar median scores.  Even accepting *her* curves, the greater number of men on the higher end of the curve doesn't "exaggerate" a male advantage at all--it "illustrates" or "illuminates" it.  Her failure to show the curves with the proper 47 to 120 SAT Math points separation neither "exaggerates", "illustrates", nor "illuminates" that male advantage at the high end--rather, it "conceals" it.  Her failure to consider the gap apparent in TIMSS or GRE scores or the politicization of standardized tests "misrepresents" it.

Since she is using SAT Math scores which are known to conceal the real differences between the sexes in math skills, she is concealing a male advantage which has already been misrepresented by the politicization of standardized tests, with the obvious objective of advancing feminism, to the severe disadvantage of both boys and girls.

We don't need educators to lie to our daughters to "improve their self esteem".  We need them to teach the truth.

References:

ERIC_NO: ED376079
TITLE: Trends in SAT Scores and Other Characteristics of Examinees Planning To Major in Mathematics, Science, or Engineering. Research Report.
AUTHOR: Grandy, Jerilee
LANGUAGE: English
DESCRIPTORS: Engineering Education; *High School Seniors; High Schools; *Majors (Students); *Mathematics Achievement; Mathematics Education; *Racial Differences; Science Education; *Sex Differences
IDENTIFIERS: *Scholastic Aptitude Test
ABSTRACT: This study analyzed data from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) taken between 1977 and 1988 to study trends in the numbers, test scores, and other characteristics of high school seniors planning to major in math, science, or engineering, and to compare these data with comparable data from examinees planning to major in other fields. Results indicated that: (1) the total test-taking population declined in number until 1983 and has since been increasing; (2) the percentage of examinees who planned to major in math, science, or engineering increased from 24% to 29% of the examinee population; (3) in 1988 examinees planning to major in math, science, or engineering obtained a mean verbal score 18 points higher and a mean mathematics score 31 points higher than the population average; (4) among students planning to major in math, science, or engineering, the mean mathematics score declined until 1981, increased until 1985, and declined thereafter; (5) among examinees who identify themselves as white and who plan to major in math, science, or engineering, there has been a differences of nearly a standard deviation between the mean mathematics scores of males and females; sex differences were not as great among black examinees; and (6) among examinees who identified themselves as black and who plan to major in math, science, or engineering, the mean mathematics score for males rose 18 points, and the mean for females rose 20 points. Appendices include Student Descriptive Questionnaires and definitions of major field categories in Science and Non-Science Tables. (MKR)
GEOGRAPHIC_SOURCE: U.S.; New Jersey
CLEARINGHOUSE_NO: SE055351
INSTITUTION_NAME: Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ.
PUBLICATION_TYPE: 143; 160
PUBLICATION_DATE: 1989
EDRS_PRICE: EDRS Price - MF01/PC17 Plus Postage.