Anxiety and Inattention as Predictors of Achievement in Early Elementary School Children


The objective of this study was to examine the relations among anxiety, inattention, and math/reading achievement, as well as the mediating/moderating role of inattention in the anxiety-achievement association both concurrently and longitudinally. Participants included 161 ethnically diverse children (aged 6–8) and their teachers. At the middle and end of first grade (approximately 5 months apart), students completed measures of anxiety and achievement while their teachers completed a measure of inattention. For the concurrent analyses, greater harm avoidance anxiety was associated with better attention, which was in turn related to better achievement. For the longitudinal analyses, midyear inattention interacted with harm avoidance and separation anxiety to predict end-of-year reading fluency. For those rated as more attentive, greater separation anxiety symptoms were associated with decreased fluency performance and greater harm avoidance symptoms were associated with increased performance. Findings were discussed in terms of the importance of considering socioemotional variables in the study of children’s academic achievement and the potential utility of early anxiety prevention and intervention programs, especially for children experiencing academic difficulties who also show internalizing behaviors.


Grills-Taquechel, A. E., Fletcher, J. M., Vaughn, S., Denton, C. A., & Taylor, P. (2013). Anxiety and inattention as predictors of achievement in early elementary school children. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 26(4), 391–410. doi:10.1080/10615806.2012.691969