Friday, June 08, 2007


I've been agonizing for several months (okay, almost a year) about what to do with Brad's schooling. He has a late birthday (October 28th) and in some states he would be allowed to start Kindergarten at age four, going on five. In New York, where I grew up, the cutoff is still December 1st, and in Louisiana (Doug's home state) it's even later--January 1st. In either state, Brad would be one of the very youngest in the class.

However, in Maryland the cutoff is September 1st, meaning Brad would start at five, going on six, making him one of the oldest in the class. For a long time I wondered and thought about what to do--I didn't want him to be bored in class, but I didn't want him to fall behind, but I didn't want to push him if he wasn't can see where I was going with this.

Then I read an excellent NY Times Magazine article that talked primarily about "red-shirting" and referenced a study, "The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence of Long-Run Age Effects."

One of the things I like to do when reading press releases or news articles is to look up the study referenced. Then, once I have the study (if I have time) I look up the primary source, such as raw numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics to view the source directly. So many statistics have a way of being manipulated by the media....

Anyway, I digress. This was a very helpful study, and I am now convinced that I'm doing the right thing in waiting until Brad is one of the older children in the class. As a parent you want to give your children all possible advantages, and it turns out that this is one big advantage...some quotes:

"...their maturity advantage increases the likelihood that they are selected for more advanced curriculum groups...relative age effects can persist...because students are separated into programs with different rates of human capital accumulation during the early primary grades..."

even in eighth grade, "...there remains...2-9 percentiles...between the oldest and the youngest students..."

"...old[er] children are more likely to be leaders in high school, which has in turn been shown to increase wages in adulthood...As such, relative age appears to have a direct effect on human capital accumulation holding educational attainment constant and is therefore likely to have a direct impact on adult outcomes such as wages, independent of its effect through educational attainment."

Anyway, all that to say that I really appreciate the proliferation and availability of material to which the Internet has given rise. Even ten years ago, I wouldn't have (easily) been able to find this study and would have had to rely on anecdotal evidence from friends and neighbors on which to base a life-altering decision. As Brad likes to say, "Knowledge is Power!" (yeah, I know, too much Schoolhouse Rock...)

EDITED: If you have times to read the NYT piece it references briefly, but pointedly, who is red-shirting, and thus giving their children advantages.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is why your brother is one of the older ones in his graduating class.