What about the boys?

One of the central goals of the 60x30TX plan put together by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) is closing the higher education completion gap between male and female students. This gap is often overlooked, but it will be central to Texas’ future economic success. Today we explore the data and provide recommendations to get more males to and through postsecondary education and into successful careers.

Where we are

  • By looking at one cohort of students, we see significant drop offs for male students at different points in their educational experience. In the 2006-2016 eighth-grade cohort, males outnumbered females in enrollment in both eighth and ninth grades. By the tenth grade, that number flips and gaps widen all the way to certification or college completion.
  • Five years after high school graduation, one out of every four females that started eighth grade in 2006 had successfully completed their postsecondary education. Less than one in five males had done the same.
  • In 2016, 135,849 male students successfully completed a certification program or earned an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.
  • Males are outpaced by females for postsecondary completion in every racial group.
  • Of all credentials, certifications have the closest rate of completion between genders at roughly half and half. For both associate and bachelor’s degrees, females outperform males by approximately 20 percentage points.

Where we need to go

  • In the next 12 years, Texas needs to increase the number of males with a postsecondary credential to a whopping 275,000 in order to remain competitive with other states.
  • To stay on track to reach that goal, we must see an increase of 33,000 males completing postsecondary education in the next two years alone.

How we get there

  • The benefits of high-quality pre-kindergarten instruction on later-in-life outcomes are clear. We must increase the quality of pre-k and offer it to our most at-risk students.
  • Texas must reduce the number of male dropouts in high schools by providing comprehensive supports throughout primary and secondary schools to increase the percentage of male high school graduates.
  • As seen by rampant and growing remediation rates in higher education as well as college dropout rates, vast numbers of students are graduating high school without the requisite skills for higher education. Policymakers must strengthen the high school diploma to signify readiness for postsecondary pursuits.
  • We must recruit more males into the teaching profession. As we can see in various studies, the closer an educator “matches” a student, the more likely that student is to succeed in their educational pursuits. Unfortunately, Texas’ teaching force is not only mismatched with its student population along racial lines, but also along gender lines. Approximately four in five teachers are female.


It’s a tall order, but we can make each of those goals a reality with smart policies. Unfortunately, getting more males to and through postsecondary education is only one part of THECB’s 60x30TX goal. Next week, we’ll take a look at how we can get minority students, now a majority in Texas schools, across the finish line.

We believe every Texas child, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code, deserves a quality education. You can help make that happen.