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Research Indicates 'Redshirting' Does Not Lead to Increased Academic Achievement

For those unfamiliar with the term, "redshirting" refers to the practice of parents delaying their child's entrance into kindergarten, typically for academic gain due to the advantage of being older in the classroom. New research suggests, however, that the increasingly common practice may not be such a good idea after all.

Made popular in part by Malcolm Gladwell's 2006 book "Outliers," which argued that success is partly dependent on right place right time and that younger students in the classroom were more likely to experience academic struggles, parents are looking for some consensus on whether there's any actual merit to redshirting.

Well, a new study published this week seems to indicate there's not, according to The Atlantic.

"A new study published in the journal Contemporary Economic Policy offers perhaps the latest piece of evidence that redshirting is little more than a silly fad—or, as one pair of economists put it in 2009, a 'suburban legend.'"

In the study, researchers looked at whether or not redshirting had an influence on whether or not those students would go on to obtain a Ph.D., the chosen metric because it signifies the highest form of academic achievement and ambition.

Not only did the study find that redshirting had no correlation to working towards a Ph.D., it also found that there was also no correlation between the practice and "a future Ph.D.’s potential lifetime earnings," the article said.

Based on their analysis of approximately 14,500 freshly minted Ph.D. recipients, the researchers conclude that a student who isn’t redshirted could end up earning $138,000 more over the course of his or her lifetime than someone who is. Assuming redshirted students get their doctorates a year later than they would’ve had they not had their schooling delayed, they get a year’s head start on their salaries, which for a first-year Ph.D. recipient averages about $58,000. 'The compounding effect' of that $58,000, namely annual inflation over 30 years, causes that difference to accumulate.

The researchers are hoping that the findings of their work, which indicate that the benefits of redshirting is overblown and unfounded, will ease parents' anxiety about when to start sending their children to school.

Read the full article here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor



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