Gender Differences in Performance on Multiple-Choice and Constructed Response Mathematics


Secondary and Middle Grades Education

Document Type


Publication Date



Examined gender differences in performance on multiple-choice and constructed response items in mathematics administered within the context of a state high school graduation test that was designed to match a specified curriculum. A secondary purpose was to demonstrate a method based on the many-faceted G. Rasch (1980) measurement model for comparing performance on different item types and exploring differential item functioning (DIF). A random sample of 3,952 eleventh graders (53% female) who took the 1994 Georgia High School Graduation Test was used for the analysis. In both mean scores and DIF indexes, women showed a statistically significant and consistent advantage over men on multiple-choice items involving algebra, whereas men showed a less consistent advantage on items involving geometry and measurement, number and computation, data analysis, and proportional reasoning. Mean scores were significantly higher for men than for women on 2 out of 8 constructed response items. However, when men and women were statistically matched according to ability, the only significant difference in performance on constructed response items was in favor of women. It was concluded that gender differences in math may well be linked to content and item format.