Sunday, March 13, 2016

Research Byte: Executive functioning and working memory deficits in kingergarten are predictive of reading and math deficits in first grade

Nice study.  For WJ III/WJ IV users, the measure of working memory (Gwm), which was the most predictive variable of first grade reading and math, was Numbers Reversed.
Available online 7 March 2016

Executive functioning deficits increase kindergarten children's risk for reading and mathematics difficulties in first grade

  • 1 The Pennsylvania State University
  • 2 University of California, Irvine


• Executive functioning deficits in kindergarten uniquely predict reading and mathematics difficulties in first grade
• Executive functioning deficits more strongly predict mathematics difficulties than reading difficulties, although these deficits predict both types of difficulties
• Working memory deficits more strongly predict mathematics and reading difficulties than cognitive flexibility deficits


Whether executive functioning deficits result in children experiencing learning difficulties is presently unclear. Yet evidence for these hypothesized causal relations has many implications for early intervention design and delivery. We used a multi-year panel design, multiple criterion and predictor variable measures, extensive statistical control for potential confounds including autoregressive prior histories of both reading and mathematics difficulties, and additional epidemiological methods to preliminarily examine these hypothesized relations. Results from multivariate logistic regression analyses of a nationally representative and longitudinal sample of 18,080 children (i.e., the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort of 2011, or ECLS-K: 2011) indicated that working memory and, separately, cognitive flexibility deficits uniquely increased kindergarten children's risk of experiencing reading as well as mathematics difficulties in first grade. The risks associated with working memory deficits were particularly strong. Experimentally-evaluated, multi-component interventions designed to help young children with reading or mathematics difficulties may also need to remediate early deficits in executive function, particularly in working memory.


  • Executive functioning;
  • working memory;
  • cognitive flexibility;
  • learning difficulties;
  • longitudinal

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