How Test Format May Influence Gender Achievement Gaps on State Standardized Tests

March 28, 2018

Authors: Sean F. Reardon (Stanford University), Demetra Kalogrides (Stanford University), Erin M. Fahle (Stanford University), Anne Podolsky (Learning Policy Institute), and Rosalía C. Zárate (Stanford University)

Published online March 27, 2018, in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association

Main Finding:

  • Measured achievement gaps between male and female students on state accountability tests are larger (more male-favoring) on tests with more multiple-choice questions and fewer constructed-response (i.e., open-ended) questions. Gaps are more female-favoring on tests with fewer multiple-choice questions and more constructed-response questions. Differences in the question format among states’ tests explain approximately 25 percent of the variation in achievement gaps across states and districts.