Academic Red-Shirting: Perceived Life Satisfaction of Adolescent Males

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

Spring 2012


Academic red-shirting refers to the practice of not starting an age-eligible child in kindergarten. Other terms used are holding out or delayed entry. Research has shown that 9% of children are academically red-shirted (West, Meek, & Hurst, 2000). Gnezda, Garduque, and Schultz (1991) found that 10-50% of students experience academic red-shirting. This practice takes place most often with upper socioeconomic status Caucasian males born in the months just prior to the school district admissions date. The purpose of this study was to measure the life satisfaction of male students in 6th-12th grade who have summer birthdays and were red-shirted, and to compare these results to the life satisfaction of male students in 6th-12th grade who have summer birthdays and were not red- shirted. In this mixed design of quantitative and qualitative research, a purposeful sample of students in an upper socioeconomic district was administered the Multidimensional Students' iv Life Satisfaction scale (Huebner, 1994). A statistical U test determined if there existed a significant difference in the life satisfaction of these two groups of students. In addition, a sample of students and parents were interviewed about their thoughts and feelings toward being relatively the youngest or oldest students in their grade. Interview data were coded for positive or negative trends. In this study, the null hypothesis was rejected because students who were academically red-shirted had a higher life satisfaction score as measured by the MSLSS. Two subgroups, family and living environment, also had significantly higher scores for red-shirted students. Qualitative data confirmed these results as parents and students in the red-shirted group had many positive things to say about their experiences, as opposed to the non-red-shirted group. To date, most of the research related to this subject has been conducted with elementary students or with combined red-shirted and retained students, or it has measured academic achievement alone. The results of this research allows parents and educators insight into the minds of those who are affected by this trend during their adolescent years.


Joyce Miller

Subject Categories

Education | Educational Leadership