Does your date of birth make a difference in how well you do as a student? If you asked Malcom Gladwell the answer would be yes. Kindergarten teachers have known this for years. It is called Accumulative Advantage.
Accumulative Advantage is when a small advantage at the beginning of something, such as kindergarten, becomes a little difference that leads to an opportunity that makes a bigger difference a bit bigger, and that edge in turns leads to another opportunity, which makes that initial small difference even bigger. The effect creates a growing separation between to people who started at the same place but end in very different places due to the increased accumulative advantage over time.
According to author Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, you can see Accumulative Advantage in play in education based on cut off dates for Kindergarten. Those who are the oldest entering Kindergarten have an accumulative advantage over those students who are very close to the cut off. Gladwell suggest schools try to mitigate this advantage and attempt to prevent those without the accumulated advantage failing at a greater rate.
“Elementary and middle schools could put the January through April-born students in one class, the May through August in another class, and those born in September through December in the third class. They could let students learn with and compete against other students of the same maturity level.”
Leave aside the obvious scheduling difficulties and what happens after kindergarten and focus on the idea. Most of us in education have known that if a student is questionable in maturity, it is better to allow the student to wait a year and allow the developmental issues to work themselves out so they student could enter kinder on a more equal footing with his or her peers. Structuring a school around birth dates might make a difference for students as they grow and develop.
It is an interesting question? What impact would structuring a school around date of birth have on the student learning? How might students benefit from being in class with students who are from a very narrow developmental range? What impact might this have on early literacy?
Accounting for Accumulative Advantage in students? That’s Education Innovation.