Gender Differences in Reading Achievement Following Differentiated Instruction

Rhonda Evette Hill, Walden University


Reading is considered the key to all learning and an essential skill required for academic and life success. An urban elementary school experiencing low reading achievement implemented differentiated instruction as a strategy to improve student achievement in reading/language arts. Researchers have found that reading achievement often differs by gender, with girls outperforming boys. Differentiated instruction has been noted as an effective strategy that meets diverse learners' academic preparation and needs. The purpose of this study was to examine if differentiated instructional strategies improved the reading performance of 3rd through 5th grade male students when compared to the female students. The theory of multiple intelligences formed the theoretical framework for this quantitative causal comparative study. Scores were analyzed from the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program reading test taken by 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders (n = 86) who were continuously enrolled and had received differentiated reading instruction for 2 school years. A t test was conducted to analyze the role of gender on reading achievement. The analysis revealed no statistically significant gender difference in TCAP reading performance in 3rd through 5th grade students who had received differentiated instruction. Based on the results of this study, a professional development plan was developed for teachers at the local site to further strengthen the training and support for teachers to effectively use differentiated instruction in reading classrooms and address the learning needs of both boys and girls. The implications for social change include the use of differentiated instruction to help close the achievement gap in reading and meet the needs of all learners.