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[Xmca-l] Fwd: Little Evidence That Executive Function Interventions Boost Student Achievement
Given the la la la about such interventions, journals on brain and
education, etc., this is kind of interesting.
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From: AERA Communications <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Mar 5, 2015 at 6:00 AM
Subject: Little Evidence That Executive Function Interventions Boost
* For Immediate Release:*
March 5, 2015
Tony Pals, email@example.com
office: (202) 238-3235
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Bridget Jameson, firstname.lastname@example.org
office: (202) 238-3233
*Study: Little Evidence That Executive Function Interventions Boost Student
*WASHINGTON, D.C., March 5, 2015—*Despite growing enthusiasm among
educators and scholars about the potential of school-based executive
function interventions to significantly increase student achievement, a
federally funded meta-analysis of 25 years’ worth of research finds no
conclusive evidence that developing students’ executive function skills
leads to better academic performance, according to a new study published
today in *Review of Educational Research*, a peer-reviewed journal of the
American Educational Research Association.
- VIDEO: Co-author Robin Jacob discusses key findings.
by researchers Robin Jacob of the University of Michigan and Julia
Parkinson of the American Institutes for Research, analyzed 67 studies
published over the past 25 years on the link between executive function and
achievement. The authors critically assessed whether improvements in
executive function skills—the skills related to thoughtful planning, use of
memory and attention, and ability to control impulses and resist
distractions—lead to increases in reading and math achievement, as measured
by standardized test scores, among school-age children from preschool
through high school. More than half of the studies identified by the
authors were published after 2010, reflecting the rapid increase in
interest in the topic in recent years.
While the authors found that previous research indicated a strong
correlation between executive function and achievement, they found
“surprisingly little evidence” that the two are causally related.
“There’s a lot of evidence that executive function and achievement are
highly correlated with one another, but there is not yet a resounding body
of evidence that indicates that if you changed executive functioning skills
by intervening in schools, that it would then lead to an improvement in
achievement in children,” said Jacob. “Although investing in executive
function interventions has strong intuitive appeal, we should be wary of
investing in these often expensive programs before we have a strong
research base behind them.”
“Studies that explore the link between executive function and achievement
abound, but what is striking about the body of research is how few attempts
have been made to conduct rigorous analyses that would support a causal
relationship,” said Jacob.
The authors note that few studies have controlled for characteristics such
as parental education, socioeconomic status, or IQ, although these
characteristics have been found to be associated with the development of
executive function. They found that even fewer studies have attempted
randomized trials to rigorously assess the impact of interventions.
“Although the link between the two may well be causal, the link needs to be
clearly established before programs designed to improve executive function
in school-age children are taken to scale,” said Jacob.
The meta-analysis provided several findings on the correlation between
executive function and academic function:
- The correlation is highly consistent whether measured at a single
point in time or as a predictor of future achievement.
- The correlation is approximately the same for different age
groups—three-to-five year olds, six-to-11 year olds, and 12-to-18 year olds.
- The correlation is about the same for achievement in both reading and
math, countering the common assumption that executive function is more
closely associated with success in math.
- The correlation is consistent across subcomponents of executive
function (inhibition, attention control, attention shifting, and working
This research was supported by a grant from the Institute of Education
Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education.
*The **American Educational Research Association (AERA)
the largest national professional organization devoted to the scientific
study of education. Founded in 1916, AERA advances knowledge about
education, encourages scholarly inquiry related to education, and promotes
the use of research to improve education and serve the public good. Find
AERA on **Facebook
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