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Redshirting: Holding Kids Back For An Edge46:33
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More parents are “red-shirting” their children in kindergarten—holding them back for a year, hoping they’ll have an edge. Does it work? We look.

Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)
Jasmin Torres helps classmate Brianna Rameles with a worksheet at the Diloreto Magnet School in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday Feb. 22, 2012. (AP/Charles Krupa)

They call it “redshirting,” like college athletes kept on the bench until they’re bigger, stronger. Except it's “academic redshirting” - for kindergarten kids. Five-year-olds held out of starting school – kindergarten - until they’re six. Maybe it’s because they’re a little slow in maturing. Maybe their parents imagine they’ll be the big kingpin in the class, the star of the soccer team. Research is decidedly mixed on whether it works. But it’s spreading. And it’s controversial. This hour, On Point: Redshirting kindergarteners, for a bigger, older start of school.
- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Sara Mead, Education Week blogger on early childhood education. Senior associate with Bellwether Education Partners. (@saramead)

David Deming, professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

Rhian Evans Allvin, executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. (RhianNAEYC)

Sarah Gonser, freelance writer and mother who redshirted her kid – who is now in 2nd grade.

From Tom's Reading List

The New York Times: Kindergarten ‘Redshirting’ Gets Tougher in N.Y.C., With Repercussions - "The issue here isn’t about the haves and have-nots. It’s about flaws in the system. Making kindergarten mandatory is a good thing. Now let’s advocate for changing the admission cutoff date and lightening the academic load. With these two problems solved, the contentious issue of redshirting could finally, happily, be laid to rest."

Slate: Can Your Kid Hack It in Kindergarten? - "The practice has become even more controversial in recent years over claims that some parents do it for the wrong reasons: They redshirt their kids not because their kids aren’t ready for school, but because, in the age of parenting as competitive sport, holding them out might give them an academic, social, and athletic edge over their peers."
The Wall Street Journal: Should Children Be Held Back for Kindergarten? - "According to the National Center for Education Statistics, some 6% of kindergartners are redshirted nationally. But the numbers can vary by neighborhood. Data from Connecticut's department of education show the incidence of redshirting ranging from 2% in poorer school districts to 27% in wealthier ones."

This program aired on September 16, 2014.

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