Children’s behavior and achievement problems are interrelated causes of distress for individuals, schools, and families, and generate long-term individual and societal costs. Yet, little is known about how the timing and direction of relationships involving achievement and problem behaviors (1) varies by standardized versus teacher ratings of achievement and (2) changes as students enter adolescence and begin secondary school. Using data from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (N = 1048, 50.05% female), we employed longitudinal structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between externalizing behaviors and two forms of achievement from third through ninth grade. Results revealed that externalizing behaviors in grades three, five, and six directly and indirectly influenced teacher ratings of school achievement in grades 5, 6, and 9, and indirectly influenced standardized assessments of achievement over time. The reciprocal relationships involving externalizing behaviors and school achievement were especially strong from grade 6 to grade 9with their contemporaneous association peaking in grade 9. Demographic and maturational factors influenced the average levels of externalizing behaviors and achievement scores over development, but none altered the timing and direction of these relationships. Our findings highlight early adolescence as an important period for implementing evidence-based interventions related to the reduction of externalizing behaviors and improvements in achievement. Implications for prevention research, practice, and policy are discussed.
- Autoregressive cross-lagged panel model
- Developmental cascades
- Externalizing behaviors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health