June 16, 2011

Redshirting

A reader who plays a lot of basketball alerts me to the name of an 8th grader often at the gym where he plays: Mickey Mitchell, a 6'7" point guard who can do a 360 dunk. And he's white. Here's a highlight reel

I played on my elementary school's basketball team in 8th grade. Our center was 6'2" and got an athletic scholarship to a private school. Mickey Mitchell would have beaten us playing 1 on 5.

He's also the top quarterback prospect in the 8th grade. It will be interesting to see which route he chooses.

How old is this 8th grader? He looks like a high school Homecoming King. Does he drive himself to elementary school?

Back in 2002, I wrote an article giving the pros and cons of "redshirting" your little boy by holding him back for a second year of kindergarten so that he'll be older as he goes through school. I still get emails from undecided parents about it, but I don't have much new to add. Has anybody done a big multiple regression or natural experiment study of this? There's a lot of interest out there.

It's something of a market failure that there aren't many direct ways to make money off of social science studies. There are a whole bunch of young parents who would pay, say, a $100 for some good advice on this topic, but there doesn't exist any particular way for this market demand to fund a social science project.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

http://www.nber.org/papers/w17085.pdf

Anonymous said...

Your kids will get mocked forever for doing it. You'd better hope they make it into pro sports; otherwise they'll be that weird kid who picks his nose and eats it.

Steve Sailer said...

Thanks. Here's the abstract:

"We investigate short and long-term effects of early childhood education using variation created by a unique policy experiment in British Columbia, Canada. Our findings imply starting Kindergarten one year late substantially reduces the probability of repeating the third grade, and meaningfully increases in tenth grade math and reading scores. Effects are highest for low income students and males. Estimates suggest that entering kindergarten early may have a detrimental effect on future outcomes."

The Cultural Wallflower said...

Looks like you just found a way to close the achievement gap. Make whites and Asians start Kindergarten early, hold blacks and Hispanics back. Though the liberals will probably have them take prepare-for-racismgarten, to steel them against the onslaught of hate they'll surely get from those big surly white and Chinese kids who are a year older!

Anonymous said...

My parents tried to hold me back a year til the school gave me a standardized test (no one thought to throw it) and I tested into the 3rd grade on average so they booted me back up to the 1st grade (it was a private school).

Only thing worse for the wear was my handwriting has always been doctor bad.

Anonymous said...

Have said it before here... I was "redshirted" by the system. Born too late and had to wait nearly a year to start school by law.

Was never going to be anything more than a D3 athlete, but was always a year ahead physically. The coordination advantage was probably greater than the size advantage.

Being picked for teams either first or second from about third to eighth grade did wonders for me socially. That headstart in confidence followed me through life.

slumber_j said...

Um, I've got an idea about how to tap that market: write a book about it. And who better to do so...

slumber_j said...

Oh: and keep it short!

Geoff Matthews said...

That kid needs to develop his sky hook.

gfs said...

Don't the Canadians have a 13th grade? And didn't US schools originally start with 1st grade instead of with kindergarten and it's somewhat pre-academic curriculum.

It seems that preschool is the real problem here if it doesn't prep a kid properly for early academic work. This is also the phase at which it is easiest for a parent to get a list of what kids need to know and teach these skills in a variety of fun ways including those great phonic based reading programs.

Back in the day, we only went to morning or afternoon k, talked about shapes, had playtime inside, had more organized playtime outside, did an art project then went home. I don't remember desks or writing tablets coming along until 1st grade. I was bored but quiet about it. I was also a fall baby which I've read gave me an advantage over those born in the spring. I and some of my friends who were also fall babies were among the better behaved throughout the rest of our schooling even if we weren't academic superstars.

I wonder about the impact of smaller families on these results. An older child soon learns leadership skills and reinforces their own learning with younger siblings around while younger kids can be accelerated in some of their development trying to keep up with older kids. For me this was accomplished through daycare. It was more challenging because you had to figure out how to play games the slightly older children preferred, function at their level with directions and avoid being the little squirt who annoyed one of them. The beasts!

Eteocles said...

It's gotta be different for smart vs. dumb kids. I was young-ish for my grade and still bored out of my mind (I'm smart). My finishing-1st son is even younger for his grade and isn't as bored but everything is definitely easy for him. If he'd been held back he'd definitely be bored out of his mind. I can't see how that helps your future prospects.

dearieme said...

"Effects are highest for low income students and males." But how does it depend on IQ?

K(yle) said...

I don't think it would be that big of a deal to most kids. Everyone has always had classmates that were a "year" younger or older based on what time of year they were born anyway.

Geoff Matthews said...

gfs,

Ontario has/had a 13th grade, but Alberta didn't when I was there.

Anonymous said...

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2011/06/16/bc-riot-thursday.html

White riot.

Dominion of Canada said...

Hey Steve,
Here is a great example of criminals bringing about their own downfall by their use of social media. The participants in last night's riot in Vancouver can't stop facebooking and tweeting their crimes.


http://www.forumvancouver.com/threads/vancouver-riot-downtown-after-canucks-lose-stanley-cup-2011.1305/

smead jolley said...

I don't understand your excitement about this Mickey kid. Doesn't anyone remember Tom McMillen, Joe Wolf, Todd Lichti, Adam Keefe, Todd Fuller, Mark Madsen, Adam Morrison? These guys, a few of them college tough guys, could all easily dunk, yet all shriveled up and rolled away as soon as they entered the orbit of a 6'8" black guy in the NBA.

Carl said...

"Looks like you just found a way to close the achievement gap. Make whites and Asians start Kindergarten early, hold blacks and Hispanics back. Though the liberals will probably have them take prepare-for-racismgarten, to steel them against the onslaught of hate they'll surely get from those big surly white and Chinese kids who are a year older!"

- Actually, it would be the blacks and Hispanics under that strategy who are older/bigger at the given grade level. Which, going through grade school, is what normally happens anyway...

Anonymous said...

White riot.
Canadian Spring?

Gilbert P.

Dutch Boy said...

Go Mickey! Dunking AND playing white man's bb (hitting the open man - no look too).

Canonymous said...

There is no longer grade 13 in Ontario. But there is Junior Kindergarten. Go figure.

beowulf said...

Leonard Sax, the pediatrician/psychologist, wrote about this in Boys Adrift (outstanding book). The big issues are that girls develop mentally so much faster than boys and that kintergartens now teach what schools uses to wait till the 1st grade to teach.
In affluent districts, it's not unusual to find that half the boys, or more, are enrolled in kindergarten at age 6 rather than at age 5; in low-income neighborhoods, on the other hand, typically fewer than 3 percent of boys will be held back. One reason that boys from low-income neighborhoods are doing so much worse may be simply that the boys from more affluent neighborhoods are starting school at a later age.
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Are_Todays_Kindergartens/

Dominion of Canada said...

White riot.
Canadian Spring?


It was mostly whites. At least 80% by my reckoning. I didn't think we had it in us.

Anonymous said...

Note that if both parents work or it's one parent raising the child alone, public-school kindergarten is German for "free daycare."

I have relatives who really strongly suggested putting my oldest son in kindergarten a year later, so he'd be one of the bigger, stronger kids in his class. I'm still not sure if it would have been better--my son's on the right end of the bell-curve intellectually and on the left-end athletically; putting him back a year would have him even less challenged by school than he is now. (That is, challenged by the volume of homework, but not really by the difficulty of anything he's studying.)

John said...

Don't the Canadians have a 13th grade?

Only Ontario did, and it ended sometime in the past decade. Everywhere outside Quebec, high school ends after Grade 12 (n.b. not "twelfth grade").

Deckin said...

To bring things back to basketball (though we're thinking about redshirting our five year old too): With all the hubub about Obama's birth certificate, has anyone seen LeBron James'? They say he's 25, but his face could easily pass for 40. It would seem that maturing early physically just accelerates every process, including facial aging. My experience with friends bears this out. Those who matured the earliest, now in their early 50s, could pass for 60 year olds easy.

Anthony said...

The problem with "there are a whole bunch of young parents who would pay, say, a $100 for some good advice on this topic, but there doesn't exist any particular way for this market demand to fund a social science project." is that each of the parents who paid $100 would pass on the advice to their friends (or relatives, or co-ethnics, or whatever), and there's no way to prevent that.

Several commenters have mentioned writing a book, which does seem like a better way - lots more people will pay $10 for a book than $100 for a report, and the word of mouth will be more likely to take the form of "This book is so great - you should get a copy", thus driving more sales.

Anonymous said...

OT, but sports related.

Steve, wonder what the rest of Canada thinks about the post-Canuck loss rioting in Vancouver.

Vancouver is evidently a strange mix of San Fran, LA, and Detroit.

Who woulda thunk it?

Anonymous said...

this is a topic i've argued among friends many times and understand it well. i have a late nov bday and my parents pushed me in early. i graduated at 17. i have a couple friends a year behind me w/bdays w/in 2 days. i am white and have a pretty high iq and have never had any trouble academically. athletically it makes a huge difference. i played HS hoops and football and played but was never anything special. but i often wonder how my life would have turned out had i had an even easier time in school and a more successful athletic career.

Whiskey said...

Basketball is a Black man's game. And its not about winning games. Its about looking good. Think WWE.

Football is still about winning, and White guys are still allowed to play (some) positions. So I figure he'll choose Football. Guy has no future in Basketball.

Anonymous said...

When I was in seventh grade our basketball team made its annual trip into the inner city. During warm ups we all just gaped at this black kid on the other team who was at least 6'7" - maybe a little taller. We were missing our tallest guy who just barely surpassed 6'0", so just for laughs I stepped in for the opening jump ball - I was the shortest guy on the team. The big black dude proceeds to slap the ball all the way down the court and out of bounds. Our ball. He really had no coordination at all - yet. Something tells me that Mickey has had a little extra time to "grow into his body".

Zarathustra said...

Wallflower:

"Looks like you just found a way to close the achievement gap. Make whites and Asians start Kindergarten early, hold blacks and Hispanics back."

If anything that would widen the "achievement gap" by a small degree. Didn't you invert the categories in your schema there?

Carl:

"- Actually, it would be the blacks and Hispanics under that strategy who are older/bigger at the given grade level. Which, going through grade school, is what normally happens anyway..."

While that's quite true of blacks, it's certainly not true for the vast majority of Hispanics, unless of course the "Hispanics" in question are Dominicans.

jody said...

OT: steve vindicated again. Truth vindicated as well.

plenty of morons in vancouver discover that they were filmed rioting by dozens of cell phones and security cameras and are shocked, SHOCKED that they were identified instantly and arrested the next day.

some of them even went on facebook and talked about what they did! EXACTLY like steve said they would!

the kicker: plenty of them were east asians! LOL @ these retards! one guy was arrested DURING class the next day!

the canadian television stations are showing photos and videos of these morons and scrolling their full names across the screen. one idiot, who was filmed deliberately trying to ignite the fuel tank of a police car, was on a full athletic scholarship to his university and his dad is a doctor. imagine how screwed he is for the rest of his life. now when an employer types his name into google, a photo of him trying to blow up a police car comes up.

Anonymous said...

He's already wearing Duke's colors!

Truth said...

There is a riot in lilly white Canada after, I would say, every other Staney Cup that features a Canadian team, it's happened in Montreal, Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary.

Anonymous said...

http://www.vancouversun.com/

Get a load of these two headlines in the Vancouver Sun (link above):

Video: Shocking Vancouver Riot Footage--Cars Burning and People Cheering WARNING MAY BE OFFENSIVE

Video: Outrageous--Vancouver riot villains caught in action-WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

I know Canada is "nice" and very pc, but videos of plate glass windows being broken and of cars set alight are reason to issue WARNINGS? I mean, these aren't akin to pictures of dead children next to the KoolAid jugs in Guyana.

No wonder those young people, stoked by beer or not, felt the need to be un-nice for once. Jeeez, wise up, Canadians. While I wouldn't wish Americana on you, you really do have to understand homo sapiens a little better.

Justin said...

I suspect the above commenters who are saying "no big deal" are the types that were not involved in sports at the varsity level. If you intend your sons to compete at the varsity level, the extra year is huge. Especially if they are playing in an integrated environment, where the competition already has an "early puberty onset" advantage.

Simon in London said...

We asked about this here in London (our soon is very athletic, but at the young end of his age cohort) and were told that parents don't get to decide to hold their child back a year. The school decides.

Simon in London said...

beowulf:
"In affluent districts, it's not unusual to find that half the boys, or more, are enrolled in kindergarten at age 6 rather than at age 5; in low-income neighborhoods, on the other hand, typically fewer than 3 percent of boys will be held back. One reason that boys from low-income neighborhoods are doing so much worse may be simply that the boys from more affluent neighborhoods are starting school at a later age."

Heh, in Britain they start at 4. My son turned 4 on 3rd June and he's starting school on 1st September. I have mixed feelings about it but he's definitely outgrown the nursery he's been at for nearly 3 1/2 years - my wife works full time same as me.

gfs said...

"Heh, in Britain they start at 4. My son turned 4 on 3rd June and he's starting school on 1st September. "

From Simon Jr.: "It's better than being drooled on by the 3 year olds. Those kids! Not to mention everything they pick up goes straight into their mouths. And, would you believe, they're not potty trained either."

Anonymous said...

I inadvertently ended up skipping a grade when my parents transferred me from a private school (where everyone was in an accelerated program) to a public school (where I was the youngest in my grade).

Horrible decision, I was depressed and put in a lackadaisical effort in high school. My social life didn't recover till college.

A couple of years of age difference makes a big difference when you are young.

Bud Fox said...

My son goes to a very high powered prep school in Greenwich with very wealthy kids and a majority of the kids are held back. Anyone with a birthday after May basically stays back and some of the other kids do also. The very high end high achievers have already decided. I would say the kids are on average 6 months older than the national average. They do fast track courses for everyone. Their scores are very high but this is inflated by their age. I did not hold my son with a June birthday back. While it probably helps some kids in school, and gives parents sports achievement to brag about, it seems like kids go to enough school as it is and part of income is determined by how long one has been working. For some it may be better to start climbing the ladder and stop partyng and playing intramurals. The kids that stayed back may be working for you when they graduate.

Justthisguy said...

This all seems very weird to me, but I went from the first half of third grade to the second half of fourth grade. I was still bored out of my mind, but Mrs. Cooper, my fourth grade teacher, sang next to me in the choir on Sundays, so she let me spend most of the day reading SF, seeing as how I got mostly A grades anyway.

Oh, and f*ck sports! The answer to sports fans and their riots is the inventions of Doctor Gatling, and Hiram Maxim, and John Moses Browning.

Anonymous said...

redshirting seems unethical because of the negative social effect on the dominated normal age classmates of the redshirt. ambitious parents should also stop pretending their kid is immature for age 6 and admit they want to redshirt to produce an excess of confidence and a socially dominant personality. kids ages should be out in the open during their school years (e.g. "Brady, a third grader at second grade level") and a 100 pt. SAT handicap should for every year a college applicant is overage.

gfs said...

"redshirting seems unethical because of the negative social effect on the dominated normal age classmates of the redshirt."

You people do rush to extrapolate, don't you. My friends and I who were more than 6 months older than some of our classmates didn't go pushin' people around. I think the language was imprecise. The focus should have been on adjustment rather than dominance. My friends and I were usually quieter, calmer, less susceptible to peer pressure and also weren't bad influences on our months younger classmates. No one had an intellectual advantage unless they got extra schooling or tutoring.

You'd do better to complain about the relative advantage a teacher's child probably has. For that matter, what about a kid whose dad has an engineering degree?

If I were the parent of an ADD child, I'd probably do this to avoid behavior problems from my kid's relative immaturity.

Anonymous said...

Probably not truly 6'7". I've met lots of high school college and pro athletes and I am taller than most. All of them pad their height (I am 6'4" on a good day).

Justthisguy said...

Ok , I'll say it without ellipses.

FUCK "Sports". It ain't a real sport unless something dies. Games are not sports. Steve has lived in California for too long, which has caused his brain to behave in strange ways.

Anonymous said...

"How old is this 8th grader? He looks like a high school Homecoming King. Does he drive himself to elementary school?"

No, but he drives all the other kids in his bus.

"and a 100 pt. SAT handicap should for every year a college applicant is overage."

I agree, damn those veterans and their GI bills.