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Topic: Revised Test Helps Girls
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Revised Test Helps Girls
Posted: May 15, 1999 12:25 PM
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[From a west coast colleague ...]

New York Times on the Web, Notebook, May 5, 1999

Revised Test Helps Girls

The number of girls winning National Merit Scholarships is up slightly for
the class of 1999, the first to take a version of the Preliminary S.A.T.
that had been revised to make it friendlier to girls, according to a new

For the class of 1999, about 45 percent of the 16,000 National Merit
semifinalists were girls, up from 41.8 in 1996, said the National Center
for Fair and Open Testing, an advocacy group known as Fairtest, which made
the analysis.

The increase means that about 350 more girls will share in the National
Merit program's $28 million in scholarship money this year. Fairtest
guessed the test-takers' sex by first names because data are not compiled
on the sex of the semifinalists.

The P.S.A.T., the criterion for choosing the scholarship's semifinalists,
is taken by more than a million high school juniors each year. Boys have
long outscored girls on the verbal and mathematics sections. Some years
boys have won more than 60 percent of the awards, though girls are 56
percent of the test-takers.

In 1997, under pressure from the Department of Education's Office of Civil
Rights, the College Board added a writing section with multiple-choice
questions on grammar and sentence structure. Girls tend to outscore boys in
such sections.

"The test is still tilted in favor of males, but not quite as steeply,"
said Robert A. Schaeffer, a spokesman for Fairtest.

Girls who took the test in 1996 had an average score of 143.6, boys 148.1;
for the new test in 1997, the average was 146.1 for girls and 148.8 for
boys. On the new writing section, girls outscored boys by nearly 1 point.


Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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