The role of executive function in shaping the longitudinal stability of math achievement during early elementary grades
Date of Original Version
There is substantial rank-order stability in children's mathematical skills throughout development. Research has shown that children who enter school with relatively low math skills are unlikely to catch up to peers who begin kindergarten with more developed math skills. Emerging evidence suggests that children's executive function skills might play an important role in shaping the rate and stability of mathematical skill development during early development. Therefore in the present study, we used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort 2010-11—a prospective sample of over 18,000 children in the United States—to examine executive function as an antecedent to characteristics of growth in math skills and to test whether executive function moderates the longitudinal stability of math achievement from kindergarten through second grade. Latent growth curve models reveal that executive function is related to not only the level of math skills at school entry but also to the rate of growth in early elementary years. Moreover, we found that executive function moderated the stability of math achievement from kindergarten to second grade, suggesting that early executive function skills can serve as a compensatory mechanism for children who enter school with lower levels of mathematical skills. These findings might have important implications for narrowing gaps in math achievement during early elementary school.
Publication Title, e.g., Journal
Early Childhood Research Quarterly
Ribner, Andrew D., Sammy F. Ahmed, Dana Miller-Cotto, and Alexa Ellis. "The role of executive function in shaping the longitudinal stability of math achievement during early elementary grades." Early Childhood Research Quarterly 64, (2023). doi: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2023.02.004.