Trajectories of academic achievement for students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

David Lawrence, Stephen Houghton, Vaille Dawson, Michael Sawyer, Annemaree Carroll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is associated with negative social and occupational outcomes across the life course. However, there has been limited population-based research that quantifies the impact of ADHD on academic achievement and academic trajectories. Aims: To compare academic performance and academic trajectories of students with ADHD with students without a mental disorder. Sample: Data were drawn from Young Minds Matter, a national population-based sample of 6,310 Australian children and adolescents aged 4–17 years. Using linked achievement test data, the academic performance and trajectories of 327 students with ADHD were compared with those of 3,916 students without a mental disorder. Methods: Survey data were combined with scores on national standardized tests for literacy and numeracy over an 8-year period. Results: In Year 3, students with ADHD were on average 1 year behind students with no mental disorder in reading and numeracy, and 9 months behind in writing. In Year 9, the gaps were much larger with students with ADHD on average 2.5 years behind in reading, 3 years behind in numeracy, and 4.5 years behind in writing. Conclusions: Students with ADHD have substantially lower achievement in reading, writing, and numeracy. Writing was the most adversely affected domain. For example, in Year 9 students with ADHD were on average writing at a Year 5 level. Children and adolescents with ADHD need substantial support to manage inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Skilled remediation in literacy and numeracy is required throughout all school years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)755-774
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date1 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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