Research Update

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In Short

In the 1980s, the practice of "redshirting" children—delaying their entry into kindergarten until they are older—began to grow in popularity in schools nationwide. Some parents saw it as a way to give an academic edge to children who might be younger or less mature.

But a new study suggests the practice gives students no real advantages. Researchers Elizabeth Graue of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and James DiPerna of Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., examined the academic records of 8,500 Wisconsin students moving from kindergarten to 3rd grade during the 1990s. Seven percent of the students had been redshirted, and 3 percent had repeated a grade.

By 3rd grade, the redshirted children performed on a par with—but not better than—their classmates. The retained children, on the other hand, continued to lag behind. More troubling, however, was the researchers' finding that the late starters were 1.89 times more likely than other 3rd graders to need special help.

"If we're delaying entry into kindergarten," Ms. Graue said, "we're delaying early intervention." The study is slated to be published in the summer issue of the American Educational Research Journal.

Let there be daylight, say researchers who studied the effects of classroom lighting on student achievement.

Researchers for the Heschong Mahone Group, a consulting company in Fair Oaks, Calif., concluded that students learn faster in classrooms with plenty of natural light than they do in artificially lighted classrooms.

Looking at test scores of 21,000 students in Orange County, Calif., Seattle, and Fort Collins, Colo. , the researchers found that students in classrooms with large windows or good skylights progressed 20 percent faster on math tests and 26 percent faster on reading tests.

The study was conducted for California's Energy Efficiency Board and paid for by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. A summary is available on the researchers' World Wide Web site, .

—Debra Viadero

Vol. 19, Issue 31, Page 10

Published in Print: April 12, 2000, as Research Update
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