The College Puzzle Blog
Prior PostingsAbout
Dr. Michael W. Kirst

Michael W. Kirst is Professor Emeritus of Education and Business Administration at Stanford University since 1969.
Dr. Kirst received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. Before joining the Stanford University faculty, Dr. Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower, Employment and Poverty. He was a former president of the California State Board of Education. His book From High School to College with Andrea Venezia was published by Jossey Bass in 2004.

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My blog discusses the important and complex subjects of college completion, college success, student risk factors (for failing), college readiness, and academic preparation. I will explore the pieces of the college puzzle that heavily influence, if not determine, college success rates.

Why Do Boys Complete College At Lower Rates Than Girls?

Girls were 58% of 4-year college graduates last year. The graduation rate of boys has been a declining trend for many years with last year's all-time low of 42% of all college graduates.

Yet, in new research on Baltimore school children, Doris R. Entwisle, Karl L. Alexander, and Linda S. Olson found no evidence of boys in crisis. The researchers found that boys and girls enter school performing at about the same rate in reading.

Nevertheless, a gap favoring girls does surface during the elementary years, but only among disadvantaged youth – as defined by those who receive meal subsidies.

Disadvantaged boys fare poorly for two reasons:
(1) They are especially likely to have behavior problems, and
(2) their parents expect them to perform less well at school.

The research suggests that the so-called boy crisis is really a poor boy crisis.

Entwisle, Doris R., Karl L. Alexander, and Linda S. Olson, 2007. "Early Schooling: The Handicap of Being Poor and Male."Sociology of Education, 80(2), 114-138.

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