Let’s chat about Academic Redshirting

Let’s chat about Academic Redshirting

Education Week – Academic Redshirting, and Why It’s Not So Simple

The impact of Academic redshirting needs to be investigated more in-depth.

The impact of Academic redshirting needs to be investigated more in-depth.

Academic redshirting is “the delaying (of) a child’s school entry to [allow the child to] develop further, much like [a professional athlete might be kept out of competition meanwhile] they develop additional skills, according to the NBER working paper, School Starting Age and Cognitive Development.” While many studies have focused on the ideal age for school entry, the factors that determine a child’s educational success are much more complex than a determined age of entry in school. While this working paper states some extremely interesting findings, it lacks the human social aspect that has a direct and significant impact on child development. * “We [used] data from a large Florida county where we [lacked] sufficient observations to make a direct within-family comparison …” (Elizabeth Dhuey, David Figlio, Krzysztof Karbownik, Jeffrey Roth pg. 2)

Samuel’s video and article give an overview of findings from different studies on Redshirting. While not expressly favoring the concept, it seems that she was able to document the advantages of doing so. According to the various studies, redshirting children gave them “more time for physical, social and emotional growth,” Samuels. Enrolling a child into kindergarten at an advanced maturity level was reflected in successful standardized testing, this success was reflected through high school. One College Board Study showed that redshirting resulted in advanced placement in exams, better chances of earning a Bachelor’s degree in four years, and less likelihood of being processed in the juvenile justice system,” Samuels. However, not all academic professionals agree with redshirting children. 

While ‘testing’ success may be a good source of data for comparison to other students across the board, standardized testing must not be the only source of data used to profile student achievement. There is a vast array of factors that must be taken into consideration to determine the coefficients for student performance. These factors can include family income, parental support, the mood of the child on testing day, teacher support and patience, testing skills of the individual and much more. It is necessary then to argue that Samuels and the College Board’s results are not sufficient evidence to support academic redshirting. 

Samuels pulled three significant findings from the research done by the National Bureau of Economic Research. 

  • Academically redshirted kids have social and academic advantages. We ask: Are these advantages based on the fact that the children were redshirted, or was the opportunity to redshirt the child due to these preexisting advantages?
  • Children have better self-regulation and can be more attentive. We ask: Though older children are more mature, are they not missing out on a variety of other important aspects of schooling?
  • The disadvantages of redshirting disappear by middle school (around 11 years old.) We ask: Is this equal for all children across the spectrum?

There are holes in the academic redshirting dispute …

There is no focus on the social-emotional aspect of development. 

The social aspect of early childhood education is imperative. Children need to socialize with other children, and early childhood education provides the perfect arena where children can learn and practice important factors of emotional development. Just as they are emotionally developing, these factors can include: control of strong emotions as well as sharing, kindness, and empathy. From their peers, young children gain self-awareness and can learn compassion. Redshirting does not consider the fact that children learn and build off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Children who have not had this stimulation can face difficulties coping when finally immersed in the school system. 

Does redshirting make a challenging job that more difficult?

Educators must balance each child’s specific strengths and weaknesses, add to that varying maturity levels and physical abilities, redshirting can, make an already difficult job even more so. According to Christina Samuels, the mixed age group (up to one year in age difference) results in a mixed cognitive level, which can leave the older student feeling unchallenged and bored because the material is too easy. In another scenario, the difficulty of the material can be increased to include the older, more mature, and cognitively developed child. Although, doing so can then isolate the younger students. One could inadvertently incentivize frustration in children who, although willing to address a learning opportunity, are not yet cognitively prepared to do so. 

 Systematic Redshirting would have socioeconomic implications. 

At-risk populations such as low-income families and students with special needs often see disadvantages in delaying entry into the school system. Children who come from lower-income families have a more significant advantage when entering the school system early on. “Confidence, problem-solving skills, coordination, self-esteem, and social skills are among the few examples of the important benefits that can be gained via schooling.” An important question to ask is, in a household where both parents must be breadwinners, who most importantly would watch children?

Studies have shown that it is more beneficial for students with disabilities to enter into the school system as soon as they are physically able, leading to more ‘able’ children. In these cases, early education “enhances the development of infants and toddlers with disabilities, minimizing potential developmental delays … by minimizing the need for special education services as children with disabilities reach school-age.” 

The early years’ benefit

Walt Gardener, a 28 year plus teaching veteran in Los Angeles disagrees with redshirting. Specifically, he believes that kindergarten should be mandatory in all states as it would benefit students who fall in the “at-risk populations.” He concludes one of his articles stating, “Let’s not forget that the first six years in any child’s life are a time of tremendous growth in the developing brain. Therefore, delaying enrollment in kindergarten, except for the most compelling reasons, is counterproductive. Yet some parents think they are giving their children an advantage. I don’t get it.” 

Who is more likely to redshirt their children? 

According to Samuels’s article and the study by the EBER, redshirting tends to be specific to a certain socioeconomic level. Adults from upper-middle-class homes and those who are college graduates are more likely to redshirt their children. More specifically, they are more likely to redshirt younger, white boys. Financially, they are more likely and able to have their child at home, in day care or preschool for an extra year. 

In the USA, all children must legally start school by age six, however, attending kindergarten is not a requirement in all states. Samuels has charted the exact start date and maximum age by state in her article. However, let us not allow this information to be the only factor in which you base your decision to hold back a child from school, or by having them start as soon as they are eligible, legally, to do so. There are so many other factors that play a role in the cognitive development of our children early on. 

How do you feel about redshirting?

  • What other factors should be studied when considering redshirting?
  • Why do you think redshirting is beneficial or not beneficial to a child’s success?
  • Do you believe that school provides an essential arena for social-emotional development?
  • Do you believe that safety and well-being (considering bullying and violence in schools) play an important role when considering redshirting?
  • What are your thoughts on Walt Garner’s comments about the necessity to take advantage of the first six wondrous years?
National MAth Bee

Leave a Reply