Developmental Trajectories of Academic Achievement in Chinese Children: Contributions of Early Social-Behavioral Functioning

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Abstract

This study explored the developmental trajectories of academic achievement and the contributions of early social behaviors and problems to these trajectories in Chinese children. Data were collected each year in 5 consecutive years from a sample of elementary schoolchildren in China (initially N = 1,146, 609 boys, initial M age = 8.33 years). Four distinct academic achievement trajectories were identified: low-stable, high/moderate-decreasing, high-increasing, and high-stable. Children high on sociability and low on externalizing behaviors and girls were more likely to be classified in the higher academic achievement trajectories. Initial higher levels of social competence were associated with lower decreasing rates of academic achievement within the high/moderate-decreasing trajectory. Initial lower levels of shyness and fewer externalizing behaviors predicted higher growth rates within the high-increasing trajectory. In addition, within the low-stable trajectory, children initially low on shyness and high on social-behavioral problems remained poor in academic achievement over time. The results suggest the significance of social-behavioral functioning in predicting the distinctive trajectories of academic achievement in Chinese children.

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