Children who enter kindergarten a year after they are eligible do better in school initially than their younger peers, but the advantage tends to fade later in their academic careers, according to a study set to appear in the Journal of Human Resources.
The findings go against earlier research suggesting that age is a significant factor in student achievement. Many states have changed kindergarten-eligibility requirements to give younger students more time to mature before starting school.
“One way to think about it is that the oldest kid in kindergarten has about 20 percent more life experience,” said Darren Lubotsky, a economics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who co-authored the study with Todd Elder, an economist at Michigan State University. “But once they start, they basically learn at the same rate.”
The delay may be a disadvantage to older students later on, the study concludes, given the cost of entering the workforce late.
A version of this article appeared in the August 27, 2008 edition of Education Week