Change in teachers' ratings of attention problems and subsequent change in academic achievement: A prospective analysis

N. Breslau, J. Breslau, E. Peterson, E. Miller, V. C. Lucia, K. Bohnert, J. Nigg

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Background Recent research has documented a link between attention problems at school entry and later academic achievement. Little is known about the association of change in attention problems during the early school years with subsequent change in academic achievement.Method A community-based cohort was followed up and assessed for attention problems at ages 6 and 11 (Teacher Report Form; TRF) and for academic achievement in math and reading at ages 11 and 17 (WoodcockJohnson Psycho-Educational Battery). Complete data were available on 590 children (72% of the initial sample). Ordinary least squares regressions were used to estimate change in academic achievement from age 11 to age 17 in relation to change in TRF-attention problems from age 6 to age 11. Children's IQ and family factors were statistically controlled.Results Change in teachers' ratings of attention problems from age 6 to age 11 was negatively associated with change in math and reading from age 11 to age 17, controlling for children's IQ and family factors. Externalizing problems had no significant association with change in math or reading, when added to the multivariable model.Conclusions Increases in teacher-rated attention problems from age 6 to age 11 were followed by declines in academic achievement from age 11 to age 17; decreases were followed by gains. The results underscore the need for research on the course of attention problems, the testing of interventions to address children's early attention problems and the evaluation of their effects on subsequent academic achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-166
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010



  • Academic achievement
  • Attention problems
  • Change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology

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