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ERIC Number: ED530403
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 9
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 18
The Role of Executive Functions Skills and Self-Regulation Behaviors in School Readiness and Adjustment
Sasser, Tyler R.; Bierman, Karen L.
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The aim of this study was to examine co-variation in the development of self-regulatory skills evident in pre-kindergarten and evaluate the implications of that variation for school adjustment in kindergarten and first grade. Measures of self-regulatory skill development included: direct assessments of EF (executive function) (e.g., Peg Tapping, DCCS), teacher ratings of attention functioning and impulsivity in the classroom, and observer ratings of attention functioning during academic assessments. The study utilized a person-centered approach (latent profile analysis) to determine whether subgroups of Head Start children showed variations in profiles of self-regulatory skills during the prekindergarten year. It also assessed whether those sub-groups differed in terms of their academic and social-behavioral adjustment at kindergarten and first grade. Because these analyses were exploratory, a priori hypotheses concerning the number of groups and specific profiles were not generated. However, it was anticipated that with direct assessment of EF, teacher-rated inattention and impulsivity, and assessor-rated attention included as continuous predictors, a solution of three or more distinct profiles would result, reflecting more than just level of self-regulation (e.g., high and low), and that these profiles would differ in meaningful ways on measures of academic and social-behavioral school adjustment. Participants included two cohorts of four-year-old children (total N = 164, 14% Latino American, 30% African American, 56% European American; 57% girls) in 22 Head Start classrooms in three counties in Pennsylvania (York, Blair, and Huntingdon). The children were recruited as part of a larger project (Head Start REDI) but did not participate in the intervention. All families met the requirements for participation in Head Start: 68% had incomes below the national poverty level. Forty percent of the children lived in two-parent families, 43 % lived with single mothers, and 17 % lived with relatives or foster families. Overall, 33 % of mothers had not completed high school; 46 % had a graduate equivalent degree (GED) or high school diploma; 19 % had some technical training; and 2 % had graduated from college. The LPA (latent profile analysis) analysis suggests that economically disadvantaged preschoolers are at increased risk for self-regulatory skill deficits, but that heterogeneity exists in the nature of those deficits. It is possible that differential approaches to intervention may therefore be needed. Children with isolated deficits in EF (the low EF class) may benefit primarily from a cognitively-focused intervention that supports EF skill development. Children with behavioral deficits (e.g., elevated impulsivity and inattention in the classroom, such as the dysfunctional class may require an intervention program that supports EF development and provides other environmental supports. Given these developmental links, it is possible that direct assessments of EF and teacher ratings of inattention and impulsivity (even at subclinical levels) may contribute to the identification of children in need of support or services. Given the exploratory nature of the person-centered analyses conducted in this study, future examination is necessary to confirm the profiles that emerged. Confirmation of risk profiles may further shed light on the development of school readiness problems. (Contains 3 tables.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Early Childhood Education; Grade 1; Kindergarten; Preschool Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania