Explaining and addressing gender differences in the New Zealand compulsory school sector

Publication Details

This review was commissioned by the Ministry of Education to explain gender differences in compulsory education during the period 1989-1999. It has a particular focus on primary, Māori and Pacific students, and disparities by gender in participation, achievement and social outcomes. The review explores assessment patterns for each of the seven curriculum areas and considers available research in the light of these patterns. Over 450 studies are reviewed

Author(s): Adrienne Alton-Lee, Angelique Praat, Research, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: 2000

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This review of the research literature was commissioned in 1999 by the Curriculum Division of the Ministry of Education to explain gender differences in compulsory education for the period 1989 to 1999. The impetus for undertaking such a review stemmed from increasing concern among policy makers and practitioners that the education of boys in Aotearoa New Zealand was at risk.

A prior analysis of data held by the Ministry of Education on the achievement and participation of male and female students in the New Zealand school sector was carried out by Angelique Praat. Angelique was at that time a member of the Research Division. This analysis informed the subsequent literature review in that it identified, early on, some of the complexities around the issue of the achievement and participation of students, with a focus on gender.

Subsequently Adrienne Alton-Lee, an independent contract researcher, and Angelique Praat jointly carried out the literature review. This was deemed to be a very successful arrangement, from the point of view of the authors and of the contractor. Each brought different skills, qualities, understandings and knowledge to the task at hand, resulting in a review that not only challenges the reader personally, but also policy makers and practitioners.

The authors' views are their own, informed by the literature and the data, and by their theoretical positioning. As is practice with any commissioned work, the Ministry of Education accepts that there may be views expressed or recommendations made by the authors that are not consistent with its policies, or that there are constraints in addressing any recommendations, either in the long or short term. However it acknowledges the importance of giving the authors the freedom to express these.

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