It is no mystery that boys fail in greater numbers in infant grades. Their capacity to accurately process the words in front of them is around a year delayed compared to their female classmates (in general).
Add to this the unstructured, open ended, whole language approach, which doesn’t suit young boys and you have a group of students who are doubly disadvantaged from the outset.
A Phonics First approach eliminates these innate discrepancies. It does not require high visual processing AND it is structured, sequential and predictable, just the way most young boys like it to be.