Friday, November 24, 2017

Academic Redshirting Essay

Till recent time the term ‘redshirting’ was usually used in college sport. It was used to describe the situation, when a student was kept away from the sport competition during the period of one year.

There were several possible reasons for this “redshirting”. There reasons were academic, medical or simply giving the chance for other students to take part in certain sport activity.

This strategy was also used in order to give athletes time to train more and to improve their skills.

After certain time the term “redshirting” has got another shade of meaning. In modern language academic redshirting stands for keeping children who must go to school one more year in kindergarten. Parents and teachers use academic redshirting in a strong belief that extra year will let children grow physically and emotionally and will make them more prepared for school. Recent statistics shows that redshirting is a rather common phenomenon in the modern society. “The National Center for Education Statistics and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study report that between six and nine percent of age-eligible kindergartners are held back from on-time school entry.” (West, Meek, & Hurst, 2002, p.67).

Statistics data, provided by the National Centre for Education Statistics, can give more explicit information on the subject. Statistics shows that till recent time redshirting was more popular in small communities and among children who attend private schools. In addition, according to the National Center for Education Statistics the cases of redshirting are more often among boys of the school age.

Children who are born in the later part of the year also often become redshirted by their parents. The NCES report also shows that white, non-Hispanic children are more than twice as likely as black, non-Hispanic children to have entered kindergarten later than their birthdays allowed (West, Meek, & Hurst, 2002, p.45).

There are several possible reasons for the growing popularity of academic redshirting in modern society.

In the most cases redshirting is regarded as a way to make children more prepared for school. Parents give them extra year keep them away from school in the hope that they will succeed better in the future. Statistics partially proves such an idea since kindergarten teachers state that approximately 48% of their students did not possess enough skills and knowledge to satisfy the demands of the kindergarten curriculum. “Alarmingly high percentages of teachers indicated that half of their students lacked important skills, including “following directions” (46%), “academic skills” (36%), and the ability to “work independently” (34%).” (Graue & DiPerna, 2002, 58). Such data can become an alarming signal and partially justify actions of those parents, who hold their children from entering school one extra year. From the other side, such data must become a reason to think over an appropriateness of school curriculum.

Effects of redshirting were not studies carefully yet. There are positive and negative consequences of holding children from school for one more year. Short-term outcomes are more evident and easier to study, but long-term ones are not so obvious. There is no one definite position of the specialists concerning redshirting. Proponents and opponents of redshirting use different approaches to the problem and often use same statistics to prove different polar conclusions. There is no agreement on the connection between school readiness and redshirting. When speaking about this factor, it is necessary to keep in mind that very often parents and teachers understand different things under school readiness. Latest researches show that teachers pay more attention to communicative skills as main factors, which define their preparation for school; while parents define academic skills, such as counting and writing when making their conclusions about the school readiness of their children (Ackerman, 2005). This difference in perception often becomes an important factor, which brings contradictions and causes many problems in defining the level of children’s readiness for school. Sometimes overprotective parents mix up usual children anxiety to enter new surrounding, such as kindergarten with their unreadiness for college.

Proponents of redshirting underline short-termed effects of redshirting underline positive results it has on academic achievements of children. There are several positive short-termed effects of academic redshirting. First of all, it increases academic rates. Secondly, it raises self-confidence of children and helps them to achieve popularity in their social groups.

In the broader level, it helps to have mixed groups inside the classroom where children of different ages interact with each other. There are several short-termed effects of redshirting. There is an opinion that in the classrooms with redshirted children other children may feel not comfortable enough in comparison to their older classmates.

Older children may also have advantages in physical development and motor skills in comparison to their younger classmates. Different ages presented in one class can make it more difficult for the teachers to organize the learning process.

Redshirting may be a way out for at-risk children, who have health problems. In this case redshirting can help these children to avoid many problems connected with school failure.

Educators, who decide to advise parents to redshirt their child, should take into account many factors, such as race, gender, ethnicity, age and economic status of the family.

Long-term effects of redshirting are harder to trace. Opponents of the redshiriting state that big percentages of redshirted children have behavioral problems in comparison to their classmates. This new data contradicts the previous common opinion that redshirted children have less behavioral problems than their classmates. In reality, redshirted children have behavioral problems, and in many cases, the rate of behavioral problems of these children is higher than the rate of children, who went to school in time. Until recent time there was also widespread a common opinion that redshirted children needed less special services and additional help during study process than other children.

Latest research proves wrongfulness of this thesis. “Moreover, in light of evidence of a higher use of special education by redshirted youths, there is a great deal of speculation that many individuals who were redshirted as kindergartners may have had special needs that were misdiagnosed as immaturity and that should have been treated by some form of direct intervention other than delayed entry” (Marshall, 2003, p. 143). Unfortunately, redshirted children often have learning disabilities, which are not diagnosed timely. So, it becomes evident that data, given by the proponents of redshirting, is easily disproved by their opponents. In general teachers usually, expect that redshirted children would perform better than their classmates and would need less assistance. In reality, this does not happen, and redshirted children need not less assistance than other children, and sometimes they even need more attention from the teacher and parents. While parents and teachers turn to the opinion that redshirting can have a positive effect on the academic rates of children, education researchers express concerns regarding redshirting. They are concerned that holding children back from school one more additional year can have an adverse effect on their communicative skills and cause further problems when they become teenagers. Educational specialists state that the level of readiness should not be the problem for professional teachers, who should educate students despite their readiness level. As mentioned before, readiness level cannot be measured by academic achievements. It can be described only by the combination of factors and communication abilities, which make an important part of them. Holding children back from school their parents do not let them develop these communication abilities.

Opponents of the academic redshirting point to the negative consequences of holding children one extra year away from school. They state that such a policy bring harm to everyone – children, teachers and their parents. They call a year, spent away from school “a stolen year.” They deny statistical data, given by the proponents of redshirting. “Research does not support this practice. In fact, delaying kindergarten entry often has negative effects. Families need to consider that by holding their child out, they may, in fact, be depriving the child of important opportunities for learning—what Graue and DiPerna refer to as theft of opportunity”( Marshall, 2003, p.136). Moreover, opponents of redshirting state since long-lasting effects of redshirting are not easy to trace, they may not appear till adolescence. They warn parents about causing harm to their children who will have a long-lasting impact on their future.

It is evident that there are positive and negative consequences of redshirting and parents, who consider this opportunity should consider both to take a right decision.

Both sides – opponents and proponents of redshirting have strong arguments to support their positions, but the parents of children should make the final decision. Parents should take into account all pros and cons to take a right choice. It is evident that academic redshirting has both – positive and negative consequences and both should be taken into account. It is necessary to keep in mind one more important thing when making a decision. It is necessary to remember that positive effects of redshirting are mainly short-termed and thus more visible, while negative effects are not so evident, but they still exist. Some negative consequences do not appear until children enter high-school.

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