Redshirting kindergarteners — holding young students out of kindergarten for a year — is supposed to provide an academic edge, especially for boys. The redshirt will be older, bigger and more mature than classmates. It doesn’t work that way, writes Emily Bazelon on Slate. She cites new research by David Deming of Harvard and Susan Dynarski of the University of Michigan.
The authors find that starting kindergarten late correlates with dropping out of high school and earning less afterward. “There is substantial evidence that entering school later reduces educational attainment (by increasing high school drop out rates) and depresses lifetime earnings (by delaying entry into the job market),” the authors write. Also, “recent stagnation in the high school and college completion rates of young people is partly explained by their later start in primary school.”
Of course, late starters may be less mature and early starters may be especially bright. However, another study looks at Norwegians, who are required to start school in the year they turn seven. Older starters — those with early-in-the-year birthdays — had no advantage over the younger starters with late birthdays. Matthew Ladner writes: “This fad is like many previous education fads: intuitively plausible but actually worthless.”