American Educational Research Association > Newsroom > News Releases and Statements > October 2013 Educational Researcher Examines Gender Gap in College Enrollment

For Immediate Release                                                                                                
October 29, 2013             

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October 2013 Educational Researcher Examines
Gender Gap in College Enrollment

Issue Also Looks at College Coenrollment, Common Core Standards, and Student Math Achievement

WASHINGTON, October 29, 2013 ─ The October 2013 issue of Educational Researcher (ER), a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), is now available on the association’s website. Included in this issue is an unprecedented look at the role of sorting between boys and girls across public U.S. high schools in explaining the gender gap of college enrollment among black and Hispanic students. The October issue of ER includes four feature articles and one brief. Links to the full text of each article are available at

This issue’s feature articles include:  

  • “Gender Gaps in College Enrollment: The Role of Gender Sorting Across Public High Schools,” by Dylan Conger and Mark C. Long, finds gender sorting across Florida public high schools contributes to 12 percent and 16 percent of females’ higher rate of college enrollment among black and Hispanic students, respectively. Conger and Long find that girls and boys sort into different public schools at a level well beyond what would be expected if the sorting were random, and that the level of gender sorting is higher among black and Hispanic students than among white students. The authors find that even a modest amount of gender sorting may substantially contribute to gender inequality in college entry. Conger and Long suggest that girls may be sorting into more academically challenging schools, but cannot state with certainty whether the schools are producing the gender gaps. As opportunities for school choice grow, the authors recommend that school systems and policymakers document and monitor gender composition and, if necessary, consider gender balance in their school assignment policies. Conger is an associate professor at George Washington University:, (202) 994-1456. Long is an associate professor at the University of Washington:, (206) 543-3787.
  • “The Effect of Postsecondary Coenrollment on College Success: Initial Evidence and Implications for Policy and Future Research,” by Xueli Wang and Bo McCready, finds that co-enrollment – defined as simultaneous enrollment at multiple postsecondary institutions during the same academic term – has a significant positive effect on educational attainment and postsecondary persistence for students beginning at community colleges and four-year institutions. Over the past two decades, postsecondary enrollment patterns have become more diversified, with an increasing number of students forgoing the linear pathway through a single institution, and instead, attending multiple institutions at the same time or moving back and forth between institutions. Wang and McCready make the case that co-enrollment seems to hold strong promise for providing a more efficient postsecondary pathway instead of causing undue complexity or greater risk of dropout. Wang is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:, (602) 263-5451. McCready is a data researcher with the Madison Metropolitan School District:, (608) 663-1879.
  • “Challenging the Research Base of the Common Core State Standards: A Historical Reanalysis of Text Complexity,” by David A. Gamson, Xiaofei Lu, and Sarah Anne Eckert, offers an independent analysis of third- and sixth-grade reading textbooks used throughout the past century. Contrary to the authors of the English Language Arts component of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) – which builds a case for higher complexity in textbooks and reading materials for students by pointing to research showing a steady decline in the difficulty of student textbooks over the past 50 years – Gamson, Lu, and Eckert find that text complexity actually has either risen or stabilized over this time. This has serious implications for the justification of the CCSS, which has been adopted in all but a handful of states. The authors studied books from 117 textbook series issued by 30 publishers between 1905 and 2004. Gamson is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University:, (814) 865-2583. Lu is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University:, (814) 865-4692. Eckert is a history teacher and research analyst at the Agnes Irwin School:, (610) 525-8400.
  • “Mitigating Against Epistemic Injustice in Educational Research,” by Jeff Frank, builds on Harvey Siegel’s analysis of the limitations of epistemic diversity in educational research, proposing a move from the language of epistemic diversity to the language of epistemic injustice in order to create more inclusive epistemic practices that lead to more accurate descriptions of the world. Frank draws on recent work in feminist epistemology to describe epistemic injustice and its implications for educational researchers. Frank is an associate professor at Sweet Briar College:, (434) 381-6130.

The brief in this issue, “Student Math Achievement and Out-of-Field Teaching,” is by Jason G. Hill and Ben Dalton. Hill and Dalton examined data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 and the School and Staffing Survey, finding that ninth-grade students most in need of a qualified math teacher are least likely to have one. Out-of-field teaching (teaching without a major, minor, or certification in a subject) is most prevalent in high-poverty schools, and the least experienced teachers are often paired with the most challenging students. Hill is an education analyst at RTI International:, (919) 541-7443. Dalton is a senior education analyst at RTI International:, (919) 541-7228.


About AERA
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) is the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes the use of research to improve education and serve the public good.