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Sunday, March 24, 2013
I'm Completely Baffled, Too!

The New York Times finds a conundrum in the city's elite public schools:

At all eight of the schools that admit students based on an eighth-grade test, boys outnumber girls, sometimes emphatically.
And thus, the whole focus of the article becomes why that particular result occurred.  But note that no question is raised about some other results:

In the United States, girls have outshined boys in high school for years, amassing more A’s, earning more diplomas and gliding more readily into college, where they rack up more degrees — whether at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral levels.
That result is just accepted as normal and natural.  The idea that boys might do better on standardized tests, or more specifically, the very top rung of boys might do better than the very top rung of girls on those tests, hey, we gotta find an explanation.
 “It is very suspect that you don’t have as many girls as boys in New York City’s specialized schools,” said Janet S. Hyde, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin who has published research on girls’ performance in math and science from elementary school through college. Individual girls might be losing opportunities, she said, “but it is also bad for society as a whole because in a global economy we need to identify the best scientists and mathematicians.”
Some might say that's the whole point of standardized tests.  The article notes:

This year, of those who took the Specialized High School Admissions Test, 51 percent were girls. But only 45 percent of those offered seats in the schools were girls.
Ah, but then where do you get imbalances like those noted here:

Boys make up nearly 60 percent of the largest and most renowned schools, Stuyvesant, the Bronx High School of Science and Brooklyn Tech, and as much as 67 percent at the High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College, according to city statistics.
I suspect strongly that a higher percentage of boys accept the seats, a fact that is hinted at here:
“I feel like, all the other schools, they mainly specialize in math and science, and, I don’t know, that doesn’t sound appealing to me,” said Ritika Modi, 16, a junior. She said she did not even apply to any specialized schools. Also, as a resident of Queens Village, she said, her parents “weren’t O.K.” with her commuting as far as Brooklyn or the Bronx, an issue several other girls noted. 
As for the differences in passing rates on the specialized exam, it is really not all that hard to figure out.  Boys have a larger standard deviation in their mental abilities; more men are geniuses and more men are retarded than women.   Hence there will be more boys in the gifted class and more in the special ed class.
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