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Relationship between Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) cognitive abilities and early academic abilities in preschool children Merkel, Carla

Abstract

Interest in the assessment of preschool children has grown considerably over the past few decades due to federal legislation in special education in the US, national goals on early school preparedness in both the US and Canada, and research on the importance of early preschool - experiences. This increase of interest in early assessment has lead to a need for evaluation of cognitive factors important to understanding early academic achievement in young children. Previous research exploring the role of specific cognitive abilities in academic performance or achievement has historically focused on school-age and adult populations, and has neglected to consider early academic abilities in preschool children, despite the recognized importance of the use of intelligence tests with this population. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between cognitive abilities as defined by the Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory and early academic abilities in preschool age children using the Woodcock-Johnson - Third Edition Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III COG), Tests of Achievement (WJ III ACH), and Diagnostic Supplement (WJ III DS) (Woodcock, McGrew, and Mather, 2001). Participants included 179 children, ages 3 years, 0 months to 6 years, 3 months. Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationships between the overall General Intellectual Ability (GIA) scores from the WJ III COG and DS, and the achievement clusters from the WJ III ACH. Additionally, individual stepwise regression equations were used to determine the cognitive abilities most important for early academic achievement in preschool-age children. The GIA - Early Development score demonstrated overall higher correlations with the achievement clusters than the GIA Standard and GIA Extended scores, providing support for the use of the GIA - Early Development score as an appropriate measure of general intellectual functioning for preschool children. Individual regression equations revealed that Comprehension-Knowledge, Processing Speed, Fluid Reasoning, and memory abilities were identified most consistently as important predictors of the WJ III ACH clusters: Pre-Academic Skills (Std), Pre-Academic Skills and Knowledge (Ext), Basic Reading Skills, Basic Writing Skills, and Math Reasoning. Limitations of the study, contributions to the field, and future avenues for research are discussed.

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