Gender differences in school achievement: a within-class perspective

Sorel Cahan, Meir Barneron, Suhad Kassim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Relying on the results of the achievement tests in mathematics, science, native language (Hebrew/Arabic) and English, administered to 1430 5th-grade co-educational classes in Israel, this study examines the between-class variability of the within-class mean score gender differences and its class and school correlates. The four main results of the study are: (1) remarkable between-test stability of the within-class gender gap; (2) considerable variability of the within-class gender gap, in terms of both sign and magnitude, found for each of the four tests: children studying in different classes are exposed to different, sometimes quite opposite, gender differences and this variability is effectively masked by the aggregate-level analyses typically reported in the literature; (3) the lion's share of the variability of the within-class gender gap lies within, rather than between schools; and (4) the relative frequency of within-class gender gaps favouring boys is positively related to school-level characteristics, which qualify as positive indicators of the school's quality and negatively to class size. The within- and between-sector (Arab vs. Jewish) components of this relation are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3-23
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Studies in Sociology of Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • achievement tests
  • between-class and between-school variability
  • gender gap
  • within-class analysis

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Social Sciences


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