Prekindergarten children's executive functioning skills and achievement gains: The utility of direct assessments and teacher ratings
An accumulating body of evidence suggests that young children who exhibit greater executive functioning (EF) skills in early childhood also achieve more academically. The goal of the present study was to examine the unique contributions of direct assessments and teacher ratings of children's EF skills at the beginning of prekindergarten (pre-k) to gains in academic achievement over the pre-k year. Data for the current study come from a subsample of children recruited for a large-scale pre-k curriculum intervention. This subsample (n = 719) was restricted to all children who were native English speakers and had at least 1 pretest and posttest score on the assessments. Several important findings emerged. Teacher reports of EF and direct assessments were correlated, particularly when EF direct assessments were modeled as a single component score. When entered into the models simultaneously, both teacher ratings and direct assessments significantly predicted academic gains in literacy and mathematics; however, the direct assessments were only marginal in predicting gains in language. EF skills accounted for the largest proportion of variance in mathematics achievement gains. The value of using both types of measures in future research is discussed. (author abstract)
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