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Why aren't more boys graduating from high school?

   While it is uncertain what is prompting it, this basic fact is clear: Girls are performing far better academically than boys in New York State public schools.

   The statewide graduation rate for boys is just 63.9 percent, compared to 73.4 percent for girls. And females have higher graduation rates in all the sub-groups tracked by the state … white, Asian, African-American, Hispanic and Native American/Pacific Islander.

   Theories abound. Some people feel boys put too much emphasis on sports, video games … and girls. They have trouble sitting still in class and need more active, hands-on learning, others say.

   Girls, some argue, concentrate better, put aside distractions and have a better hold on the long-term value of an education.

   It wasn't always this way. Decades ago, boys outperformed girls, and efforts were made to help the young ladies catch up.

   The gender gap is causing increasing concern among educators. State Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills worries about high school drop-outs who will end up "on the margins of society," and is looking for answers.

   How serious is this problem? What are the causes? And what can be done to boost the academic achievement of boys?

   -- Peter Simon



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