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Preschool executive functions, single-parent status, and school quality predict diverging trajectories of classroom inattention in elementary school

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 September 2014

Tyler R. Sasser
Pennsylvania State University
Charles R. Beekman III
Pennsylvania State University
Karen L. Bierman*
Pennsylvania State University
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Karen L. Bierman, Department of Psychology, Pennsylvania State University, 110 Moore Building, University Park, PA 16802; E-mail:


A sample of 356 children recruited from Head Start (58% European American, 25% African American, and 17% Hispanic; 54% girls; Mage = 4.59 years) were followed longitudinally from prekindergarten through fifth grade. Latent profile analyses of teacher-rated inattention from kindergarten through third grade identified four developmental trajectories: stable low (53% of the sample), stable high (11.3%), rising over time (16.4%), and declining over time (19.3%). Children with stable low inattention had the best academic outcomes in fifth grade, and children exhibiting stable high inattention had the worst, with the others in between. Self-regulation difficulties in preschool (poor executive function skills and elevated opposition–aggression) differentiated children with rising versus stable low inattention. Elementary schools characterized by higher achievement differentiated children with declining versus stable high inattention. Boys and children from single-parent families were more likely to remain high or rise in inattention, whereas girls and children from dual-parent families were more likely to remain low or decline in inattention.

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Preschool executive functions, single-parent status, and school quality predict diverging trajectories of classroom inattention in elementary school
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