The Reasons and Repercussions of Redshirting

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Upon my arrival to Trinity College, I learned something interesting when we shared our birthdays and ages at orientation; something that I hadn’t given much thought to until now. I am one of my youngest friends here and I am born in April, the fourth month of the year! It really surprised me to learn that students are in my class but almost a full year or two older than me. Different states have different cut offs so I assumed that it was as simple as that, but then I learned of the redshirting phenomenon. Redshirting refers to the practice of postponing a child’s entrance to school with the intent that your child will have an advantage. Redshirting has created yet another inequality in the United States public education system. In this paper I seek to uncover: When and how did the practice of “redshirting” for kindergarten arise as a public issue, has the practice become more prevalent in recent decades, and if so, what kinds of factors have influenced it, and what are the broader consequences?

Redshirting arose, by name, as a public issue in the early 1980’s and since, studies have shown that redshirting has steadily increased in the past three decades. There is no single explanation for what caused the shift, but there have been many factors that influenced the increase in redshirting. Redshirting has also come with consequences, causing a greater disparity of knowledge in kindergarten and changes in school curricula.

Redshirting comes from the practice used by college athletic teams, a technique where an athlete takes a season off for development and training purposes. Redshirting kindergarteners, however, has become a recent phenomenon, with scarce mention before the early 1970’s. Some believe that policy shifts in entry laws from 1975-2000 contributed to the rise of redshirting. During this time, twenty-two states increased the minimum age for kindergarten entry. This ultimately led to a steady decline in six-year olds enrolled in first and second grade, dropping 13% between 1968 and 2010 (Bassok and Reardon, 284). Policy is not the only factor that has influenced this change- it is also believed to come from parenting techniques. This delay that parents’ have may in part created, is due to the fear that their child is not socially or developmentally ready to begin kindergarten (Bassok and Reardon, 284). However, parents’ may not have come up with the idea to redshirt their child on their own.

Another factor that is believed to contribute to the rise of redshirting is the rise in standardized testing. Scholars Lincove and Painter found that the No Child Left Behind law has increased pressure for schools to reach the national standard; standardized testing can begin as early as the third grade. Standardized testing in the third grade puts immense pressure on teachers and school boards to start preparing students for these exams as early as grades K – 2 (Lincove and Painter, 154). Some districts feel the need to increase the kindergarten entry age or encourage parents to redshirt students because of standardized testing (Lincove and Painter, 154). The fact that schools have recently made changes to the legal age of school entry is tied to the schools fear of not performing well on standardized testing, and it’s believed that the redshirting phenomenon might be an unintentional consequence of pressure that the standardized testing puts on schools (Deming and Dynarski, 9). It is a common thought that redshirting was challenging the intellectual level of kindergarten curriculum but this is something much larger, standardized testing is the reason for the change in curriculum. Although there is not any data to prove that kindergarten is what first grade was forty years ago, it is quite obvious that the academic expectations of kindergarteners is higher than ever (Deming and Dynarski, 11). Allowing an extra year for students to stay home and develop creates disparity in knowledge in the classroom, which makes it difficult for the teacher to teach the class (Graue and DiPerna, 512). Parents’ decision to redshirt their children can be both individual and communal based. As mentioned before, some research has found that school districts have encouraged parents to redshirt their children to increase the standardized testing results for the district (Lincove and Painter, 154). Standardized testing holds school districts (principals and teachers) accountable for students test scores, which leads them to encourage redshirting. Parents and teachers are only thinking about the short-term benefits it will provide on both parties; not realizing the long-term repercussions it might have (Deming and Dynarski, 9).

Another reason that we presume parents’ redshirt their children is due to the fear of retention. Studies have shown that students who repeat a year of kindergarten often have behavioral issues in their second year and are not as motivated to learn (Holloway, 89). Since parents’ are the ones who make the decisions for their child to be redshirted it is important to look at family influence. This is where redshirting becomes complex because there are many independent variables outside of the school that influence the decision to redshirt. Scholars Lincove and Painter looked at the National Educational Longitudinal Study (NELS) of 1988 and analyzed eighth graders and attempted to trace back to their kindergarten entry. In this study, they separated the students into three groups: summer birthdays, winter birthdays, and summer birthdays that redshirted (Lincove and Painter 159). From their study, they determined that most of the students who were redshirted came from nontraditional families and were likely to have been born outside of the U.S (Lincove and Painter, 158). In contrast, today it is evident that students from middle-class families are more likely to be redshirted because of their cultural capital and socioeconomic status (Hansen- Bundy).

In 2006, a study was conducted that found that 5% of children in the United States are entering school a year later than they are permitted to. While this may seem harmless, 77% of these deferrals are students who are born in the last quarter of the year and 30% of these children come from families who are in the top socioeconomic quarter (Bedard and Dhuey, 29). Therefore, this leaves children from low socioeconomic standing in an even greater disadvantage – being the youngest in their class and having less cultural capital. An important consequence of redshirting is the increase in disparity of human capital and social welfare (Deming and Dynarski, 16). In kindergarten, those who are the oldest are the ones with the greatest advantage – typically coming from higher socioeconomic classes and having an extra year under their belts from cultural education experiences. On the other hand, children who live in poverty are faced with the struggle to compete with students that already had an unfair advantage outside of the classroom. There is substantial evidence from an array of programs that are for disadvantaged children. This evidence shows that early assistance prevents grade repetition, reduces crime, and helps prevent teen pregnancy (Heckman and Masterov, 6). The use of tracking in the American school system takes this disparity and puts these students on lower education paths as if they have learning disabilities when, in actuality, they are only behind because they are competing with students a full year older than them (Deming and Dynarski, 16).

There has been much debate on whether or not redshirting has positive or negative long-term effects on a child. In the earliest grades, the redshirted child is said to be at an advantage, coming into school with an extra year of development, which gives them a leg up both in and outside of the classroom. It is proven that the brain development between ages five and six is very significant because these are the fundamental years of children’s lives (Konnikova). However, evidence shows that redshirted students don’t have this ‘leg up’ forever. Being the oldest student in a class reduces their educational attainment (Deming and Dynarski, 3). The younger children attain more knowledge because they are more motivated and carry a good work ethic throughout schooling (Deming and Dynarski, 2). Plummeting High School graduation rates in America’s public education system is a huge issue and correlations can be made to redshirting. Redshirting has created a loop in the public education system, because of the higher age of entry into kindergarten, high school students are able to drop out a year earlier (Deming and Dynarski, 2). The United States doesn’t have a universal age entry law for kindergarten; however, there is compulsory schooling law in place that constrains children to remain in school until a certain age, not for a certain amount of years (Deming and Dynarski, 12). Although there is evidence of correlation between increase in redshirting and increase in dropout rates, most redshirted kids will not drop out. The price of redshirting is that these children will be delayed in entering the labor force and acquiring capital (Deming and Dynarski, 15).

In redshirting, parents are trying to give their child an advantage in the classroom and on the sports field but what they don’t realize is that this ‘leg up’ doesn’t last forever. Choosing to redshirt is also choosing to prolong your child’s childhood, which in turn means they will reach some of life’s greatest milestones a year later than they were supposed to (Deming and Dynarski, 4). This recent phenomenon of delaying entry to school has led to the prolonging childhood and adolescence, most importantly the delay of adulthood – which correlates with the economy (Deming and Dynarski, 2). Education teaches cognitive and other skills that are key components to the labor force and more importantly impacts the economy. This fact ties back into the high dropout rate because it negatively effects the economy, if these cognitive and non-cognitive skills are not embedded in students (Heckman and Masterov, 7). It also ties to the prolonging of childhood because redshirted students enter the industry a year later than they would have. The economy is greatly impacted if the school system is not producing students who have cognitive and non-cognitive skills that are essential to the labor force (Heckman and Masterov, 18). With that said the phenomenon of redshirting and any other educational shifts like it must be closely studied.

Kindergarten once revolved around finger painting, nap time, learning shapes, colors and the alphabet. Today kindergarten curriculum revolves around fast pace preparation for the standardized tests that they will begin taking. The curriculum of Kindergarten is changing and seems to be shifting towards the structure of 1st grade because of the popularity of redshirting. Since redshirting is fairly recent there isn’t one determined explanation for the shift studies have shown that helicopter parents and standardized testing are the leading causes. The pressure for students to preform and achieve has made parents’ fearful that their child isn’t ready to start school. What I hadn’t realized at first glance was the many other social, political, and economic factors that redshirting has created. Educational shifts are crucial to study because if the system isn’t producing skilled and intelligent individuals our economy will suffer. Redshirting seems like it could be an easy fix – if the education system had a universal age requirement. However, educational changes take a lot of time and nothing is a simple, as it may seem.

Every parent wants what is best for their child and say they would ‘ do anything for their child.’ It is a fatal flaw that in our education system that those who have socioeconomic status are the ones who can afford to redshirt and give their child a ‘leg up.’ Redshirting raises the question of whether this practice is immoral or unwise, because of the disparity that it is creating. There is no study that has shown enough evidence of anything detrimental to a child’s future if they are redshirting. Redshirting may create disparity of knowledge in classrooms but disparity is everywhere in society, and if redshirting could potentially help your child there isn’t any parent who wouldn’t do it. The rules and expectations of students in Education are almost always based on their age. America is living on a calendar of age; age determines when we can start school, drop out of school, drive, vote, work, consume alcohol, buy tobacco. Age, by society’s standards determines individuals’ readiness, maturity, and ability to handle certain situations. America has let age define an individual’s experience and progression beyond just celebrating another year of life.








Work Cited



Aliprantis, Dionissi. “Redshirting, Compulsory Schooling Laws, and Educational Attainment” American Educational Research Association, 37:316 (2012): 316-338. Web. 14.April.2014.


Bassok, Daphna and Reardon, Sean. “Academic Redshirting” In Kindergarten: Prevalence, Patterns, and Implications” American Educational Research Association, 35:283(2013): 283-297. Web. 13. April.2014.


Bedard, Kelly and Dhuey, Elizabeth. “ The Persistence of Early Childhood Maturity: International Evidence Of Long-Run Age Effects.” Department of Economics University of Santa Barbara, University of Santa Barbara. Web. 27. April. 2014


Deming, David and Dynarski, Susan. “The Lengthening of Childhood.” NBER Working Paper no.14124. National Bureau of Economic Research. June, 2008. Web. 29April 2014.



DiPerna, James and Graue, Elizabeth. “Redshirting and Early Retention: Who Gets the ‘Gift of Time’ and What Are Its Outcomes?” American Educational Research Journal, 37.2 (2000): 509-534. Web. 15. April. 2014.


Hansen – Bundy, Benjy. “Political MoJo.” Mother Jones. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.


Heckman, James, and Dimitriy Masterov. 2007. “The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children.” Review of Agricultural Economics, 29(3): 446–93.


Konnikova, Maria. “Youngest Kid, Smartest Kid?” The New Yorker. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.


Lincove, Jane and Painter, Gary. “Does the Age That Children Start Kindergarten Matter? Evidence of Long- Term Educational and Social Outcomes” Educational Evaluation and Policy, 28.2 (2006): 153-179. Web. 16. 2014.


Moyer, Melinda. “Can Your Kid Hack It in Kindergarten, or Should You Redshirt Him?” Slate Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.


Safer, Morley. “Redshirting:Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten.” CBS. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.


Schmidt, Michelle. “Kindergarten ‘Redshirting’: A Leg Up or an Unfair Advantage?” SparkPeople. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.






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Upon my arrival to Trinity College I learned something interesting when sharing our birthdays and ages at orientation; something that I hadn’t given much thought to until now. I am one of my youngest friends here and I am born in April, the fourth month of the year! It really surprised me to learn that students are in the same class but almost a full year or two older than me. Different states have different cut offs so I assumed that it was as simple as that, but then I learned of the redshirting phenomenon. Redshirting refers to the practice of postponing entering school with the intent that your child will have an advantage. Redshirting has created yet another inequality in the United Stated public education system. With that said, my interest is in researching: Is it immoral for parents to give their child the advantage of redshirting? And furthermore, are they cheating the system in doing so? What impact does redshirting have on the success of children’s lives in and outside of the classroom? And what inequalities have the practice of redshirting created?

            Redshirting comes from the practice used by college athletic teams, a technique where an athlete sits out for a season. Redshirting is important because studies have shown that parents that are redshirting their children are more affluent. Not all students are able to get this advantage because there are parents who must put their children in school as soon as possible in order to defecate childcare costs (Schmidt). This ties in to another inequality in schooling that is a popular phenomenon called cultural capital. Cultural capital is when a student comes from an affluent family and are culturally exposed and educated before they even enter school. The students who are commonly redshirted are affluent and have already had many cultural and educational experiences before entering school and on top of that, redshirting gives them the opportunity for an additional year for culturally educating. Not only does this give the children a year for more cultural experiences, but also another year for their brain to develop. Studies have shown that there is a substantial difference in a child’s brain from year five to year six; a difference much greater than the difference between a twenty and twenty-one year olds (Konnikova). There is also a substantial amount of data on the social advantage redshirted students are getting. Research has shown that the older students in the class are typically the ones who take leadership positions and they also have an advantage in sports, because redshirted students are typically bigger because of that extra year of growth.

However, parents aren’t the only ones who are taking advantage of the system, the schools are as well. Schools aren’t necessarily opposed to redshirting because it is also beneficial to them, holding back kids at entry may order up the schools standardize testing scores (Safer). The working class parents who cannot financially keep their children back and the typically more affluent children are the ones redshirted they are more developed. Research has shown that the poorer students repeat grades three times more than more affluent children (Hansen- Bundy). The achievement gap tends to be a popular topic when it comes to the U.S education system. The achievement gap is high and some studies have shown that redshirting has contributed to this gap(Hansen-Bundy).

I started my research watching an intriguing 60 minutes on CBS by reporter Morley Safer. This informative 60 minutes started to get me thinking about the short and long term affects that redshirting has on a student, and also the disparity that it has created in the U.S education system – causing problems in both private and public systems. I read different blog posts and continued to further my research finding something that I originally hadn’t thought twice about was such a popular phenomenon with a lot of scrutiny around it. I also found several book reviews and books that have substantial data showing the ramifications that redshirting is having on the lives of the individual student that was redshirted as well as the effects that it has on the students classmates. I always assumed the purpose of holding a child back was so that they are not the youngest in their grade, but my research has proven that this phenomenon has a much larger effect on the student, his/her peers, and the education system as a whole.



Works Cited

Hansen – Bundy, Benjy. “Political MoJo.” Mother Jones. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.

Konnikova, Maria. “Youngest Kid, Smartest Kid?” The New Yorker. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Apr. 2014.

Moyer, Melinda. “Can Your Kid Hack It in Kindergarten, or Should You Redshirt Him?” Slate Magazine. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Apr. 2014.

Safer, Morley. “Redshirting:Holding Kids Back from Kindergarten.” CBS. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.

Schmidt, Michelle. “Kindergarten ‘Redshirting’: A Leg Up or an Unfair Advantage?” SparkPeople. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Apr. 2014.

Adult Education Mandate

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Hartford Board of Education held a Workshop Meeting at the Asian Studies Academy at Bellizzi School in Hartford Connecticut, on the evening of Tuesday March 4th 2014. The Workshop was held in the auditorium of the school, a panel of the Board of Education faced the audience, and across from them sat the two men giving the presentation on their study of Adult Education Feasibility. The meetings goal was not to pass any legislation but instead to have a conversation about the information found in the study and pose any questions and concerns the board had.

The meeting began with background information about the Superintendent and Board of Educations’ agreement with the CREC to manage a feasibility study of Adult Education Services. The goal was to acquire information and find potential resources for adult education. Adults (16 +) are eligible for a free education by Connecticut state law, if they are not enrolled in school. The presentation provided detailed information about the labor market, business stakeholders and partnership opportunities, resources and feasibility study recommendations. The statistics found in the study were quite eye opening, 30.2% of the adult population in Hartford (18+) has not received a high school diploma and 15.2% of the adult population does not speak English. Poverty and unemployment in Hartford are direct results of illiteracy that were found in this study. The study also found that 72% of adult education students reported that their reason for joining the program was because they wanted to obtain or maintain employment. Most adults who go through the program are not concentrated on advancing into a higher education; most of these jobs want middle-skill sector jobs. As one presenter said, “ These students need to learn the skills and fundamentals of reading and writing of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders.” That statement truly shows why an Adult Education Mandate is needed in Hartford, where an immense amount of adults are lacking the fundamental literary skills that are crucial in life.

The Adult Education Mandate divides its students into two groups: Students who need help with basic literacy skills –these students are further away from employment through the program, and students that are closer to the possibility of being successful – who have had jobs and they have the necessary skills to keep a job. One board member raised an interesting point that was missing from the research, and that was whether or not the researchers had conducted any interviews with students who are currently in an Adult Education Program. One in the audience could tell that this made the presenters a bit uncomfortable when they replied saying that they had not conducted any interviews with students. Most individuals would find that this would be a very useful piece to incorporate into the study and the same bored member continued to pose questions that the presenters couldn’t answer. The meeting was not held to get any legislation approved but it is evident that there are some holes in the study that would have been useful information for the board members to know.

Connecticut has the largest achievement gap in the country and Hartford has an even larger achievement gap than the rest of Connecticut. With that said their needs to be major reforms and mandates in Hartford to try and close the achievement gap. Right now there are four Adult Education Mandated Programs: Elementary School Completion/ Adult Basic Education, Secondary School Completion (GED, National External Diploma Program), United States Citizenship, and English as a Second Language. After studying several education reforms I’ve learned that many reformers say that inadequate funding is preventing their reform for taking off. The researchers found that the funding for Adult Education was not nearly enough, with a statewide budget of 20 million 65% state – 35% local funding. With those funds the enrollment is only 1,323, which is only .03% of what the community needs. Inadequate funding is one of the major problems that it preventing the Adult Education Mandate from taking off and making a difference.

             This board meeting attracted many middle-aged women and men whom may have been interested in the Adult Education Mandate. The arrangement of the meeting was a little off putting with the two presenters backs were faced to the audience. Based on the questions that the board members were posing it seemed that the two presenters were not as prepared as they should’ve. They were not able to answer several of the board members questions, the questions posed should have been able to be answered. Overall the meeting was informative because we had not known of the Adult Education Mandate. A mandate that would help not only individuals struggling with illiteracy and unemployment but it would also help Hartford as a whole by improving employment and closing the achievement gap. photo (1)

Behind The Blackboard

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Bob Bowdon, a former television host and reporter from New Jersey produces “The Cartel,” a documentary that takes a look inside the failing American School system. The documentary flips through broadcasts, interviews, news articles and documents that address the enormous issue of public education in America. America is always thought to be the best, at least we like to think so, but scores of the PISA test prove our education is not. PISA is an international math exam given every three years, with an average score of 500 in most countries. America, however, scored a 474, which falls below countries with less developed economies (Bowdon, 0:02:32). While America has lower PISA scores, it ,spends more money per student on education than any other country in the world (Bowdon,0:03:34). “The Cartel” focuses mainly on the state of New Jersey, because New Jersey’s education system shows that despite adequate funding, schools are failing.

Teacher unions, as Bowdon believes, are bad for improving education because they protect bad teachers. In this documentary, there are several accounts where teachers were not doing their job but because of tenure it has been difficult to fire them. Tenure and teacher unions are two parts of the system that contribute to the failing schools. Bowdon also discusses the tremendous amount of spending on administration. An interview with Lee Seglem discusses a particular case where there was a ‘clash in leadership styles.’ The superintendent agreed to resign and the Board of Education paid $470,000 dollars for someone that only worked at the school for a year (Bowdon, 0:12:39). This is just one of many examples of excessive administrative spending. The National Board of Education is spending money in the wrong places and the schools are failing as a result. Education spending is one of Bowdon’s explicit theories of change. The screenshot compares the number of superintendents in New Jersey and Maryland. Maryland, a similar state in terms of size, has a population density but on 24 school districts, whereas New Jersey has 616 school districts. Maryland V. New JerseyDue to the large number of districts, New Jersey spends more money on employing superintendents. As a result, if they cut back on this unnecessary spending they could put more money into teachers salaries. The money should be put into the schools and the teachers salaries rather than paying the administration.

Another important example of how the teachers union is bad is in the false advertising for New Jersey education. False Advertising This screenshot, for example, says that New Jersey has the highest graduation rate- this is false. The commercial that was televised includes SRA (Special Review Assessment) that is an alternative program, and that is 100% entry 100% output (Bowdon,1:04:00). New Jersey drops to 24th in the country when you do not include the SRA. Instead of trying to improve education in New Jersey to become the #1 in graduation rate, the teachers union is promoting education to the public under false pretenses ( Bowdon,0:28:42). Bowdon also talks about Camden, which has the highest drop out rate and lowest scores in New Jersey. In fact, the number of students in the 9th grade is almost equivalent to students in the 10th 11th and 12th grade combined (Bowdon, 0:27:32). There is an interview with a boy, Juan, who is in 9th grade at Camden and doesn’t know the alphabet (Bowdon, 0:45:31);this truly speaks to the level of poor education. Violence has become a huge issue in Camden and is a direct result of these poorly run school districts. The Police Chief of Camden said himself that it was a miracle that he was able to leave the public school ( Bowdon,0:36:12).

School Choice is a big part of Bowdon’s research. He believes that more vouchers should be given to students. It isn’t fair for a child to have poor education just because they do not have money to live in areas with the best public schools. Students should be given more vouchers that would give them the ability to go to a charter or private school and get out of the poor public school system (Bowdon, 1:28:03). Bowdon does a great job at reaching the viewers when he shows a district in New Jersey Charter school lottery.Charter School Lottery As you can see in this screenshot, the little girl is heart broken that her name was not called. This scene really gets to the viewer because an innocent child was just praying that she would have the opportunity to go to a better school. Everyone’s child should have the right to a good education.

Some feel that the documentary failed at portraying poor education in America by focusing on a single state. New York Times article “Children Left Behind,” by Catsoulis, shares the opinion that the documentary is just a bunch of television clips and interviews of people trash-talking the schools in New Jersey. Catsoulis describes The Cartel as “Visually horrid and intellectually unsatisfying,” however, I found it very enlightening (Castroulis). I do believe, that the documentary would have been more effective if it spoke about education in America as a whole rather than just one state. I feel as though the random television clips and articles made it a bit confusing and overwhelming.

I do not believe that School Choice reform is a good reform because even though it gives students an opportunity, that opportunity lies in the hands of their parents. The districts that use School Choice are in poor areas usually where parents might not have the intelligence to make the right decision for their child. What would improve School Choice reform in my opinion would be similar to the Harlem District Zone proposed by Geoffrey Canada. The goal of the Harlem District Zone is to improve education but also educate the parents of Harlem, so that they can make the right decisions for their children (Tough, 23). School Choice reform with an addition of a course to educate the parents in these districts would be much more successful in my opinion. If a course similar to the one proposed by Canada was included to School Choice the reform would not be as flawed. Despite the tremendous spending in our schools, they are still poorly run, which speaks to what those in the system are doing. The money and power is in the hands of people who are corrupting the system and hurting the lives of the children in America. The future of our country is in the hands of our education system and our educators.





Work Cited


Catsoulis, Jeannette. “Children Left Behind.” New York Times. New York Times, 15 April 2010. Web.  22 February 2014.


“’The Cartel’ Director Bob Bowdon on Education Reform” Youtube.Youtube, 26 May 2010. Web. 23 February 2014.


The Cartel, created and directed by Bob Bowdon. 2010.

Tough,Paul. Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America. New York:Mariner Books, 2009. Print.

Avoiding Plagiarism

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Step 1: Sean Corcoran, an economist at New York University, studied the teacher evaluation systems in New York City and Houston.


Step 2: Sean Corcoran found that the mean “margin of error” of a teacher in New York City was 28 points give or take.


Step 3: The value-added scores fluctuate throughout the years because teachers receive different rankings yearly, (Ravitch 270-271).


Step 4: Because of the fluctuating rates between years, predicting the rating one will receive is nearly impossible because it is unlikely they will get the same rank ( Ravitch 270-271).


Step 5: The technique used to measure an individual teacher based on “growth models” has proven to be inefficient because there is too much room for error (Ravitch 270-271).



Work Cited

Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (New York: Basic Books, 2011), pp.270-271.