New York

The costs of raising school entry age

The New York Sun reported today on The Lengthening of Childhood, a new paper from David Deming and Susan Dynarski of Harvard’s Kennedy School.  The paper examines the costs of “academic redshirting,” the practice of holding children back a year before enrolling them in kindergarten, and how it affects long-term outcomes, like national high school and college graduation rates and economic outcomes.  As the New York State Assembly is considering legislation affecting kindergarten enrollment across the state, it’s a good time to think about the possible results of changing school entry age for some or all students.

Academic redshirting is most commonly practiced by white, upper income parents who wish to give their children a competitive advantage over younger peers in academics and athletics.  At the same time, many states have raised their minimum school enrollment age by moving cut-off dates earlier in the year; according to the report, the average cut-off date has moved forward about 6 weeks over the last two decades, resulting in an older school population.

The authors challenges the conventional wisdom that the gap in high school completion between males and females has widened since the early 1990’s.  The gap in high school completion is, indeed wider at age 18 than it was 15 years ago, but when one looks at high school completion by age 19, the gap does not show an increase.  The authors attribute this to the greater numbers of boys redshirted in the early grades, who therefore graduate from high school a year later than peers who were not redshirted.  Similarly, adjusting for sex differences in kindergarten entry age explains some of the gender gap in college graduation rates at age 22.

The report examines reasons for the rising age at kindergarten entry, including increasing academic standards in kindergarten and pressure to raise achievement on standardized testing.  The authors note that the trend in rising school entry age began before the current push for high-stakes testing, though concerns about competitiveness on standardized tests have been mentioned as justification for state laws raising the entry age.

Currently, the New York State Assembly is considering two bills that would affect students’ entry into kindergarten.  The first, New York State Assembly Bill A08688, would require full-day kindergarten and thus lower the compulsory school entry age to 5, with a December 31st cut-off date.  Exceptions would be made for parents who choose to hold their child out of school for 1 additional year.  The second, New York State Assembly Bill A03425 would raise the compulsory kindergarten entry age by moving the cut-off date to September 1.  Meanwhile, New York City’s Chancellor’s Regulations require that all students enter first grade if they will turn six within the calendar year of registration, and kindergarten if they turn five within the year of registration, effectively preventing redshirting.

The danger in mandating later entry to kindergarten programs is that it raises equity concerns.  Middle and upper-income families have more day care and pre-kindergarten options available to them than lower-income families; differences in school readiness can only increase the longer we delay school entry.  Raising the age of entry also decreases the years a student must spend in school before reaching the legal age to drop out; since lower-income children are more likely to drop out, a later entry age affects them disproportionately.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.