Executive function and academic achievement: Longitudinal relations from early childhood to adolescence

Publication Abstract

Ahmed, Sammy F., Sandra Tang, Nicholas Waters, and Pamela E. Davis-Kean. 2019. "Executive function and academic achievement: Longitudinal relations from early childhood to adolescence." Journal of educational psychology, 111(3): 446-458.

Data from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care (N = 1273) were analyzed to assess the longitudinal relations among executive function (EF) components in early childhood (54 months) and adolescence (15 years) and their prediction of academic achievement. We found that after controlling for early achievement, demographic, and home environment variables, only working memory at 54 months significantly predicted working memory at 15 years and that working memory was the only significant EF predictor of achievement at age 15. In contrast, all early achievement measures were significant predictors of later achievement. Furthermore, no demographic or home environment variables at 54 months significantly predicted EF at 15, and only maternal education significantly explained variance in adolescent math and literacy achievement. These findings demonstrate the predictability of working memory and highlight its importance for academic outcomes across development. However, the lack of associations of preschool inhibition and attention measures, after controlling for early achievement, demographic, and home environment variables, to corresponding measures in adolescence suggests the need for more developmentally sensitive measures of EF. Given that the EF measures used in this study are commonly used in educational and psychological research, more care should go into understanding the psychometric properties across development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved)

10.1037/edu0000296

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