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What Explains Boys’ Educational Underachievement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (English)

This paper examines the factors that are associated with boys’ underachievement in mathematics and science in Saudi Arabia, where students attend gender-segregated schools from grade 1 onward, as well as student achievement in these two subjects in grades 4 and 8 more generally. The paper employs data from two recent large-scale assessments of education: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2019 and Saudi Arabia’s National Assessment of Learning Outcomes 2018. The results suggest that in grade 4, school climate was more strongly associated with boys' compared with girls' achievement in both mathematics and science, with boys attending schools of poorer school climate having a considerably lower performance compared with girls attending such schools. The findings also indicate that although greater literacy and numeracy readiness was linked with higher science achievement among boys and girls, grade 4 boys tended to benefit more from this readiness than girls. In addition, the results show that student absenteeism in grade 4 is particularly strongly associated with decreases in mathematics achievement among boys. In grade 8, interactions between student gender and students’ confidence in science, the degree of schools’ emphasis on academic success, and teachers’ age are observed. The paper concludes by discussing some of the implications of these findings for educators and policy makers in Saudi Arabia.


  • Author

    Elsayed,Mahmoud Abduh Ali, Clerkin,Aidan, Pitsia,Vasiliki, Aljabri,Nayyaf, Al-Harbi,Khaleel

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  • Document Type

    Policy Research Working Paper

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  • Country

    Saudi Arabia,

  • Region

    Middle East and North Africa,

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  • Doc Name

    What Explains Boys’ Educational Underachievement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ?

  • Keywords

    gender gap in education; student achievement in science; literacy and numeracy; linear regression model; science achievement; absence from school; linear regression analysis; attitudes toward science; old student; international student assessment; gap between boys; gross enrollment ratio; girls in school; achievement in mathematics; professional development training; maximum likelihood estimation; class of student; level of wealth; respect student; gross domestic product; high academic level; achievement in school; tests of mathematics; Access to Education; availability of resource; predictor variable; mathematics achievement; school climate; achievement gap; academic success; gender difference; Teachers; school location; immigrant student; student absenteeism; mathematics teacher; teacher absenteeism; school discipline; older teacher; learning mathematics; equivalent level; descriptive statistic; parental support; educational resource; large town; Private School; female teacher; early literacy; numeracy skill; large-scale assessment; immigration status; school leadership; teacher qualification; learning science; student engagement; educational leadership; science content; performance gap; statistical significance; segregated school; mathematics education; standard deviation; job satisfaction; school student; achieving student; home learning; greater access; immigrant status; high school; attending school; basic skill; available data; remote area; student body; school level; school quality; academic performance; standard error; survey design; national population; elementary school; science score; education directorate; considerable difference; teacher hiring; background variable; population level; school evaluation; sample design; representative sample; hierarchical approach; science instruction; supplementary information; composite indicator; policy relevance; subject area; increased access; first stage; school type; participation rate; administration procedure; participating country; discipline problem; international assessment; recent studies; quality school; educational progress; reading score; administrative datum; simple model; disciplinary practices; start school; cognitive skill; family background; intermediate education; student score; negative correlation; educational research; basic model; Research Support; suburban area; development policy; open access; low performance; postgraduate qualification; organizational problem; Elementary Education; previous work; gender stereotype; school child; preprimary education; work environment; educational environment; cultural context; individual difference; education systems



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Elsayed,Mahmoud Abduh Ali Clerkin,Aidan Pitsia,Vasiliki Aljabri,Nayyaf Al-Harbi,Khaleel

What Explains Boys’ Educational Underachievement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (English). Policy Research working paper,no. WPS 9896 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.