In Germany, national standards for mathematics for the end of primary school were established in 2004. In the present study, data were collected to evaluate these standards, and were used to compare the mathematical skills of girls and boys. Many studies have shown that gender differences are strongest at the highest levels of education. The findings from primary school are less consistent. Thus, in our study we analyzed achievement differences in a sample of approximately 10,000 third and fourth graders, representative of the German elementary school population. Gender-specific competencies were compared in the different content domains, both for the general mathematical competence, and for the cognitive levels of the tasks. Overall, boys outperformed girls, but substantial variation was found between the content domains and general mathematical achievement. Differences were higher in grade three than in grade four. The proportion of boys in the classroom did not appear to affect the individual level of performance. Analysis of the items on which boys or girls clearly outperformed each other reproduced a pattern of specific item characteristics predicting gender bias consistent with those reported in previous studies in other countries.
Henrik Winkelmann, Marja van den Heuvel-Panhuizen and Alexander Robitzsch have written an article called Gender differences in the mathematics achievements of German primary school students: results from a German large-scale study. The article was recently published in ZDM. Here is the article abstract: