Redshirting & Acceleration

September 25, 2011
by Angelique LeDoux

I have a confession to make… Well, actually, my mother has a confession to make. When I was in kindergarten, my mom changed my birthdate on a school application from October 20, to October 2, apparently the cut-off date to get me into first grade. The head of my  kindergarten assured my mom I was ready.

And aside from a neighbor trying to bust her for the indiscretion, the big secret– that a child 18 days shy of a school board’s chosen date to admit children into school- never amounted to much.

I never remember feeling less able than my classmates, nor looking or feeling younger either. And while I was not accelerated, or “double promoted,” as I remember my sister was, I gave elementary school my all, with obvious strengths and weaknesses.

Personally, I’ve never been a big fan of “redshirting,” and this Opinion piece in the September 24, 2011 New York Times Sunday Review section struck a cord:

“Teachers may encourage redshirting because more mature children are easier to handle in the classroom and initially produce better test scores than their younger classmates. In a class of 25, the average difference is equivalent to going from 13th place to 11th. This advantage fades by the end of elementary school, though, and disadvantages start to accumulate. In high school, redshirted children are less motivated and perform less well. By adulthood, they are no better off in wages or educational attainment — in fact, their lifetime earnings are reduced by one year. “

New York City public schools rarely- if ever- accelerate elementary students, despite research that proves it’s one of the most effective and least expensive ways to provide advanced learners with a rigorous and challenging learning environment they need.

“The benefits of being younger are even greater for those who skip a grade, an option available to many high-achieving children. Compared with nonskippers of similar talent and motivation, these youngsters pursue advanced degrees and enter professional school more often. Acceleration is a powerful intervention, with effects on achievement that are twice as large as programs for the gifted. Grade-skippers even report more positive social and emotional feelings.”

Read more of the article Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril by Sam Wang & Sandra Aamodt and share your thoughts with us.

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