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Starting Kindergarten. What is the best age?. The factor most often used to determine entrance to kindergarten was age. (Saluja, 2000). June 1 July 1 Aug. 15, 31 Sept. 1, 2, 10, 15, 30 Oct. 1, 15, 16 Dec. 1, 31 Jan. 1 District decision in five states. State Entrance Comparisons.

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Starting Kindergarten

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Starting kindergarten

Starting Kindergarten

  • What is the best age?

State entrance comparisons

The factor most often used to determine entrance to kindergarten was age.

(Saluja, 2000)

June 1

July 1

Aug. 15, 31

Sept. 1, 2, 10, 15, 30

Oct. 1, 15, 16

Dec. 1, 31

Jan. 1

District decision in five states

State Entrance Comparisons

What if my child will be among the youngest in his class

What if my child will be among the youngest in his class?

  • Delay?

  • Enter on time?

Entrance age dilemma

Entrance Age Dilemma

  • Is it better for the child to enter on time or to delay entry in order to become one of the oldest in the class?

Academic redshirting

Academic Redshirting

  • Holding back to get ahead

Who is held out

Who is Held Out?

  • Males

  • Caucasians

  • Middle + SES

  • Born second half of the year

9 of all 1 st and 2 nd graders had been held out of kindergarten

9% of all 1st and 2nd graders had been held out of kindergarten

3rd quarter = 11%

4th quarter = 13%


Racial divide


  • White, non-Hispanic twice as likely as Black, non-Hispanic to have been held back



  • 360,000 yearly

Difficulties interpreting research

Difficulties Interpreting Research

  • Mixed results

  • Youngest and oldest groups vary

  • Subjective vs. objective measures

  • Differences in school expectations

  • Controls for intelligence

Research studies

Social-emotional differences

Achievement differences


Social emotional


  • Do the youngest children in a group exhibit poor social skills?

  • Do they have problems adjusting?

Starting kindergarten


  • If the children who delay entrance are from economically advantaged families…

  • If those advantaged children have higher achievement… then…

  • Differences in achievement may be just differences due to economic advantage.

  • (DiPrima, 1991)

Social skills

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Sociometric interviews at kindergarten and 1st grade, teacher ratings, report cards, and self-reports

  • Findings: No differences in self-reported school adjustment, loneliness, perceptions of competence, or social acceptance related to school entry age.”

  • (Spitzer, 1995)

Social skills1

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Parents and teachers rated second graders’ social skills. Those ratings were compared to kindergarten entrance age.

  • Findings: Kindergarten entrance age was not a predictor of later social skills.

  • (Springer, 1997)

Spitzer cont

(Spitzer, cont.)

  • Findings:

  • Peer ratings of social acceptance not related to age in K or 1st grade

  • No report card differences in social development (but teachers said older children had better social skills).

  • Report cards did not reflect differences in physical skills, language, or math.

Spitzer cont1

(Spitzer, cont.)

  • “Being among the youngest in the class was not related to either rejected or neglected social status.”

  • “…younger children were not at a social disadvantage.” (supports earlier research)

Social skills2

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Used report card checklist of conduct

  • Findings: No conduct differences between youngest and oldest groups

  • (DiPrima, 1991)

Social skills3

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Looked at scores on the standardized Behavioral Problem Index. Parent reports (Nationally representative sample)

  • Findings: 12% of held back children scored above 90th percentile (compared to 7% of children who entered on time). Rates increased with age. (Caucasians only)

  • (Byrd, 1997)

Social skills4

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Parent reports about 1st and 2nd graders (from national survey 1993 and 1995)

  • Findings: For 1993 survey, parents reported that held out children had fewer negative comments from teachers than did children who had entered on time.

  • (Zill, 1997)

Social skills5

Social Skills

  • Study Description: Looked for correlation between age and referrals for psychological services.

  • Findings: No differences related to age

  • (DeMeis, 1997)

Starting kindergarten


  • “Children whose family income, background or circumstances put them most at risk for school failure remain at risk when they enter kindergarten a year older than their peers.”

  • (Ginsberg, 1999)

Academic achievement

Academic Achievement

  • Does redshirting provide academic advantage?



  • Study Description: Used grades and standardized test results on large urban sample (longitudinal study)

  • Findings: Older entrants did slightly better in 1st grade due to math scores.

  • Four years later differences had disappeared

  • (DiPrima, 1991)



  • Study Description: Matched held back and on-time entrants for I.Q. and gender. Compared scores on standardized achievement tests at 4th and 5th grades.

  • Findings: Composite test scores were higher for held back children. Held back boys scored higher in reading.

  • (Crosser, 1991)



  • “Age at entrance was a far less powerful predictor than the socioeconomic variables in our covariate set.”

  • (DiPrima, 1991)



  • Study Description: National, longitudinal K-5 study

  • One-on-one assessments, teacher questionnaire, parent interview

  • Findings: Children who were a year older outperformed younger children born Sept.-Dec.

  • (America’s Kindergarteners, 2000)

America s kindergarteners cont

America’s Kindergarteners, cont.

  • Parents and teachers reported more task persistence in older children.

  • Reading, Math, and General Knowledge scores decreased with age at entry.

America s kindergarteners cont1

America’s Kindergarteners, cont.

  • Data collected fall, 1998

  • Baseline data

  • Does not reflect school achievement so must not be misinterpreted.



  • At the end of the kindergarten year, both groups had made a year’s growth.

  • Children were learning at about the same rate but they were learning different things.

  • (The Kindergarten Year, 2000)



  • Study Description: Looked at age and related referrals for special programs

  • Findings: No differences between young vs. old groups in academic difficulties

  • (DeMeis, 1992)



  • Study Description: Looked at achievement scores at the end of kindergarten

  • Findings: No differences by age if entered preschool at age 3. But, if children entered preschool at ages 4 or 5, the older ones scored higher.

  • (Gullo and Burton, 1992)



  • Study Description: Iowa Test of Basic Skills to measure achievement for redshirts and on-time entry (controlled for I.Q.)

  • Findings: “Redshirts, however, did not appear to gain any advantage in achievement as a result of delaying school entry.”

  • (Cameron, 1990)



  • Study Description: Review of entrance age literature

  • Findings: School age does not affect academic achievement

  • Both younger and older groups made a year’s progress

  • (Narahara, 1998)



  • Description: Reading and math standardized achievement test comparisons old K, young 1st, older 1st

  • Findings: At end of 1st grade children made the same progress

  • (Morrison, 1997)

Morrison cont

Morrison, cont.

  • Differences were starting age differences.

  • Entrance age was not a good predictor of academic achievement.



  • Study Description: Achievement test scores and teacher ratings of Head Start graduates

  • Findings: Intelligence, not entry age, predicted achievement and ratings

  • (Grenninger, 1997)



  • Study Description: Compared delayed entry and retained children at grades 2, 5, 7

  • Findings: “With intelligence controlled for, delayed entry does not lead to achievement advantages.” It is an “ineffective intervention” to homogenize the classroom.

  • (Kundert, 1995)



  • Study Description: Parent reports about 1st and 2nd grade children who delayed or repeated kindergarten. (1993, 1995 National Survey)

  • Findings: (1993) Delayed entry received less negative teacher feedback. (1995) Delayed entry were less likely to have been later retained.

  • Delayed entry performed as well as those who started when eligible. Delaying does not appear to help or harm later school performance.

  • (Zill, 1997)



  • Study Description: Report cards (Kindg.)

  • Findings: Language and math skills were not a function of age.

  • (Spitzer, 1995)



  • Study Description: Compared referrals to special programs by age.

  • Findings: Younger children qualified for gifted programs at the same rate as older children.

  • (DeMeis, 1992)



  • Curricular

  • Personal

  • Social Policy

360 000


Held Out Each Year

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