It’s no secret that many young boys have trouble sitting still in class and that gets them into trouble. What may be less clear is that poor behavior can bias a teacher against a student, affecting academic achievement as well. Jessica Lahey describes her realization that she was handing out discipline unevenly in a great Atlantic article.

“It seems that behavior plays a significant role in teachers’ grading practices, and consequently, boys receive lower grades from their teachers than testing would have predicted. The authors of this study conclude that teacher bias regarding behavior, rather than academic performance, penalizes boys as early as kindergarten. On average, boys receive lower behavioral assessment scores from teachers, and those scores affect teachers’ overall perceptions of boys’ intelligence and achievement.”

Library of Congress This year’s end-of-year paper purge in my middle school office revealed a startling pattern in my teaching practices: I discipline boys far more often than I discipline girls.

Read more at:

  • R. Wright

    Homeschooling / unschooling.

  • Curtis


    I also wonder if the fact that the majority of K-8 teachers are female adds to the problem. That is not to be sexist, only that men relate better to boys and women to girls as a natural phenomenon. I much more am tolerant of our boys “squirrely” behavior than my wife (most of the time). I know that when I taught 6-12 science and math, I was less apt to hand out referrals and detentions for behavior infractions than most other teachers, especially female ones. I could relate to the boys and also had no problem being firm with them.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor