What Impact from Kindergarten entry delays & reduced cohort sizes?

By , August 10, 2012

I noticed that several states have begun “rolling back” kindergarten enrollments, so that this year and in each of the next few years, students will need to be 1 month older to enter kindergarten. What impact will the flow of these smaller cohorts have on our schools?

From the California Dept. of Ed. web site, new Kindergarten students must be five years old by:

  • December 2 for the 2011-12 school year,
  • November 1 for the 2012-13 school year,
  • October 1 for the 2013-14 school year and
  • September 1 for the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter. (California Education Code, Section 48000[a]).

This serves two political interests:

  • For these three transitional years, only 11/12 (91.7%) as many students will be enrolled in kindergarten (thus reducing the amount states are required to pay school districts for each of these cohorts, not just during these three years, but over the entire 15 years while these cohorts flow through their entire 13-year stays in primary and secondary schools); and
  • Older students, and students in smaller cohorts, may be predicted to score slightly better on standardized tests, absent any other changes.
Some other effects are possible; for example, more parents may elect to enroll children in private schools that permit earlier entry into Kindergarten, and it’s possible that dropout rights might decline slightly for the smaller cohorts. I don’t know if¬†“transitional kindergarten” programs, which were already expanding in recent years, will continue or grow.

If we ignore migration, this would mean that over the next 15 years, those three smaller cohorts of students (each being about 92% [11/12] the size of earlier classes) will flow through all the grade levels (K-12) and into colleges. Then, after 2015, new Kindergarten enrollment levels would presumably return to earlier levels, subject to the usual demographic variations (including birth & migration rates).

What impact might this “delayed entry” to kindergarten¬†and the flow of these smaller cohorts through all grade levels, have on teachers, schools, and curriculum?

I’m not just asking about Kindergarten, but also all the other grades as these smaller cohorts ripple through all K-12 grades.

Logically, we would expect the number of teachers employed in the “smaller cohort” grade levels to drop (probably not by the full 8.33% [1/12], and as the state and school districts increase maximum class sizes it may be difficult to isolate the impact of the smaller cohorts from the staff impact of larger class-size limits).

What other impacts will we see? Is the flow of three smaller cohorts through our schools “a good thing”?


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