Friday, July 18, 2008

FYI, redshirting

Since it is not something we have ever contemplated, I don't have much to say about holding kids back a year. Although, in principle, I guess it depends on the child. For instance, Ken Robinson has remarked that it is extraordinary why all kids in a class are of the same age. "Why do we think they are best matched on learning according to their date of manufacture?" That said, school isn't just about the learning but about the society too.

A little while back I reported on a study that suggested that red-shirting did little to improve educational and employment outcomes. In today's WSJ blog a discussion of a new study by David Deming and Susan Dynarski that argues that the practice is leading to little good.
Kids who start school a year late have one year less schooling before they reach the age at which they’re allowed to drop out, decreasing their average educational attainment and widening the gap in learning between rich and poor. (Low-income teenagers are more likely to drop out.) And those who do stay in school enter the labor force a year later — decreasing their average lifetime earnings as well as their contribution to Social Security.
That is a bit of a worry. Economist Mom who does have experience with this offers her thoughts.

[Update: In Slate, Emily Bazelon summarises the research.]