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Are girls’ math skills different than boys’? Evidence from an early grade numeracy assessment in five countries

Tue, April 16, 1:30 to 3:00pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Seacliff B

Proposal

Numeracy Boost is Save the Children’s early grades math approach which focuses on supporting teachers, students, and communities to improve and strengthen foundational math skills. It is based on expert input, research on how children learn math, and best practices in early math education. Numeracy Boost has been implemented in seven countries, in both development and humanitarian settings. Data collected on student learning outcomes and student’s home numeracy environment has provided SC with a deeper understanding of children's foundational math skills and various trends in math as they relate to types of skills, gender, home environment and socio-economic background.

This investigation will use data on student learning outcomes collected from the Numeracy Boost assessment across five countries as a first step in better understanding what we can learn in terms of the relationship between gender and math acquisition in the early primary grades. Sub-tasks included questions in the number and operations, geometry and measurement domains. All sub-tasks, with the exception of addition and subtraction, were untimed. Three main questions drove the research agenda: 1) are there gender differences across the different subtasks at baseline and do these change by endline? 2) are there differences in the math gains of boys and girls from baseline to endline? 3) are there differences in the accuracy and speed of boys and girls in addition and subtraction problems?

Digging deeper into how boys and girls differ in math skills is helping SC support teachers in closing the gender gap in early grades math classrooms and change perceptions on who can and cannot do math. This study will help those working in early grades math learn how gender influences learning and what teachers, implementers, and program designers can do to close the gender gap in math.

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