CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — New research challenges a growing trend toward holding kids out of kindergarten until they’re older, arguing that academic advantages are short-lived and come at the expense of delaying entry into the workforce and other costs.
The findings show older kindergartners fare better academically largely because they learn more before starting school, not because age improves aptitude, said Darren Lubotsky, a University of Illinois economics professor who co-wrote the study.
Older students post higher test scores than younger peers during the first few months of kindergarten, but their edge soon fades and nearly vanishes by eighth grade, according to the study, which will appear in the Journal of Human Resources.
The findings counter decades of research linking age to academic achievement that has led states to push back kindergarten entrance age deadlines and convinced more parents to start children later than the once-traditional age of 5.
In 2002, nearly 21 percent of 5-year-olds were not yet enrolled in kindergarten, up from less than 10 percent in 1980, according to the study, co-written by former U. of I. economist Todd Elder, now a professor at Michigan State University.
Though older students have an early edge based on an extra year of skill development, the study maintains that older and younger students learn at the same pace once they enter school, based on a review of federal education data.
The study found, for example, that older kindergartners scored 24 percentage points higher than younger peers on standardized reading tests, but the gap narrowed to less than 4 percentage points by eighth grade.
While they have a small advantage over other 8th graders they are probably lagging other kids their same age who are already in 9th grade. Those other kids will hit the job market sooner and probably will make more money total in their working lives.
Slowing up learning of kids is a really stupid trend. As I've argued previously in my post Accelerate Education To Increase Tax Revenue, Reduce Costs, we need to move kids through school more rapidly. Starting a year later works against this goal. One way to speed up the educational process is to separate instruction from testing and allow people to take standardized tests to earn credit in various subjects. Charles Murray takes a similar position in his new book Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality where he argues for more certification tests for a variety of occupations. He points to the CPA test for accountants as an example of this approach.
It is my understanding that the state of Virginia allows people to take the state bar exam for lawyers without first attending law school. This is another example of that same style of establishing competency to work in an occupation.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2008 August 18 10:50 PM Education|