Kindergarten Children's Executive Functions Predict Their Second-Grade Academic Achievement and Behavior

Paul Morgan, George Farkas, Marianne Messersmith Hillemeier, Wik Hung Pun, Steve Maczuga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Whether and to what extent kindergarten children's executive functions (EF) constitute promising targets of early intervention is currently unclear. This study examined whether kindergarten children's EF predicted their second-grade academic achievement and behavior. This was done using (a) a longitudinal and nationally representative sample (N = 8,920, Mage = 97.6 months), (b) multiple measures of EF, academic achievement, and behavior, and (c) extensive statistical control including for domain-specific and domain-general lagged dependent variables. All three measures of EF—working memory, cognitive flexibility, and inhibitory control—positively and significantly predicted reading, mathematics, and science achievement. In addition, inhibitory control negatively predicted both externalizing and internalizing problem behaviors. Children's EF constitute promising targets of experimentally evaluated interventions for increasing academic and behavioral functioning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1802-1816
Number of pages15
JournalChild development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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