'Redshirting' kindergarteners not as common as reported

Apr 26, 2013
A new U.Va. study shows that ‘Redshirting’ Kindergarteners is not as common as reported.

New research findings from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and the Stanford School of Education show that "redshirting" in kindergarten – the practice of delaying for a year a child's entry into kindergarten – is not happening at the rate previously reported.

In "'Academic Redshirting' in : Prevalence, Patterns, and Implications," published April 16 in the journal Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, study co-authors Daphna Bassok, assistant professor at the Curry School of Education, and Sean F. Reardon of Stanford found that only between 4 percent and 5.5 percent of have their entry into kindergarten delayed.

Recent articles in popular news outlets and magazines have suggested that redshirting is more popular than it actually is. For instance, a 2008 article noted 17 percent of kindergartens were 6 years old rather than 5 when they started kindergarten.

"The perception recently has been that redshirting children for kindergarten is an increasingly popular practice, reaching upwards of nearly 20 percent of kindergarteners," Bassok said. "Our research shows that those numbers are way off and in reality we are seeing only about 4 percent of students starting kindergarten a year after they are first eligible."

Bassok noted that redshirting is garnering the attention of policymakers, in addition to .

The low rates nationwide, however, mask large variations across groups. According to the study, redshirting is extremely unlikely in schools in low-income neighborhoods, but in some high-income communities there are schools where nearly one in four children delay kindergarten entry.

Low-income and minority families are far more likely to indicate concerns about their child's readiness for kindergarten, a major reason to consider redshirting, but rarely delay kindergarten entry. While nearly 6 percent of white children are redshirted, the study found less than 1 percent of black children are; children from higher-income families redshirt almost three times as often as low-income children.

"Delaying kindergarten means finding and paying for another year of child care," Bassok said. "For most low-income families, redshirting is far too expensive."

The authors also find that redshirting is twice as likely to occur among boys than girls. One common explanation for redshirting is that children – particularly boys – are not prepared for the increasingly demanding kindergarten environment. However, in their study, Bassok and Reardon find that children who delay kindergarten do not seem to lag physically, socially or cognitively behind other children their age.

"We examined whether the children who delay kindergarten are those who seem to be struggling or immature, as evaluated by their preschool teachers, parents or even direct test scores," Bassok said. "We were surprised that at age 4, kids who end up delaying kindergarten looked just as 'ready' for school as their peers."

The study's findings suggest that redshirting parents are mostly concerned about their child's position relative to the other children in their classes. In communities where redshirting is common, there can be a large gap between the oldest and youngest students in a class. Parents whose children have birthdays close to the cut-off date for enrollment often would rather wait a year to enroll, so their child becomes among the oldest rather than youngest child in the group.

Bassok's current research is looking at whether or not the perception is true that the academic rigor of kindergarten is increasing, which she hopes will add more insight into the practice of redshirting.

Explore further: Computer games give a boost to English

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Instruction expert to parents: Don’t delay school entry

Jan 30, 2008

If you have reservations about whether your son or daughter is ready for kindergarten, you're not alone. Many parents agonize over concerns that their child might be among the youngest or smallest in the class. They often ...

Study: Kindergarten friendships matter, especially for boys

Nov 29, 2011

High-quality friendships in kindergarten may mean that boys will have fewer behavior problems and better social skills in first and third grades, said Nancy McElwain, a University of Illinois associate professor of human ...

Benefits of preschool vary by family income

Nov 16, 2010

State-funded preschool programs have historically enrolled low-income children, aiming to help them start school on a footing closer to nonpoor youngsters. Today, more and more states are expanding access to preschool programs, ...

Lifelong payoff for attentive kindergarten kids

Jan 30, 2012

Attentiveness in kindergarten accurately predicts the development of "work-oriented" skills in school children, according to a new study published by Dr. Linda Pagani, a professor and researcher at the University of Montreal ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

4 hours ago

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

5 hours ago

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

21 hours ago

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 0