An Australian study of 27 years' worth of American students' school grades shows that girls perform a lot better in reading and writing than their male counterparts.

Researchers from Griffith University in Australia revealed that the standardized test scores of nearly four million American students show that girls pull away from boys in the fourth grade when it comes to reading and writing.  It becomes a blow-out between eighth and twelfth grades, particularly in writing.

"The common thinking is that boys and girls in grade school start with the same cognitive ability, but this research suggests otherwise," says  lead author David Reilly, a doctoral student at Griffith.  "Many boys are highly proficient in reading, and yet really struggle when it comes to writing tasks."

Scientists looking for a reason behind the bump say part of the problem for boys could be linked to the fact that they're more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability, compared to girls. Also, behavioral issues could be behind the lag, as can "pressure to conform to masculine norms" -- that is, the feeling that reading and particularly expressing themselves in writing -- is "girl stuff."

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