A new study has linked difficulties in school (as early as kindergarten) to lower scores on high school tests. The study was conducted by researchers from UC Davis Medical School and Michigan State University.
"In our study, a child's inability to pay attention when they start school had the strongest negative effect on how they performed at the end of high school - regardless of their IQ (intelligence quotient)," said lead study author Joshua Breslau, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the UC Davis School of Medicine and a researcher with the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities.
He suggested that addressing attention problems early in life could keep some children from entering "a downward spiral of failure."
Breslau and colleagues analysed data on approximately 700 children who were followed from kindergarten (ages 5 through 6) through the end of high school (ages 17 through 18).
It examined the relationship between aggressive, inattentive and depressive behaviours and children's later performance on standardized high school achievement tests.
The researchers found that inattentiveness in kindergarten was the only behaviour that consistently predicted lower scores on reading and math achievement tests administered more than a decade later.
"Our study shows that early attention problems predict poor performance later in math and reading," Breslau said.
The study appears online in the June issue of the medical journal Paediatrics.