Noncognitive Skills and the Gender Disparities in Test Scores and Teacher Assessments: Evidence from Primary School


Using data from the 1998–99 ECLS-K cohort, we show that the grades awarded by teachers are not aligned with test scores. Girls in every racial category outperform boys on reading tests, while boys score at least as well on math and science tests as girls. However, boys in all racial categories across all subject areas are not represented in grade distributions where their test scores would predict. Boys who perform equally as well as girls on reading, math, and science tests are graded less favorably by their teachers, but this less favorable treatment essentially vanishes when noncognitive skills are taken into account. For some specifications there is evidence of a grade “bonus” for boys with test scores and behavior like their girl counterparts.