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Cognitive Control Predicts Academic Achievement in Kindergarten Children


Address correspondence to Jeffrey T. Coldren, Department of Psychology, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH 44555; e-mail:


Children's ability to shift behavior in response to changing environmental demands is critical for successful intellectual functioning. While the processes underlying the development of cognitive control have been thoroughly investigated, its functioning in an ecologically relevant setting such as school is less well understood. Given the alarming number of children who face failure in the U.S. school system, the purpose of this project is to determine whether subtly different measures of cognitive control differentially predict academic achievement. Sixty-five kindergarten children were given two versions of a Dimensional Change Card Sort task—a geometric version followed by a linguistic version. Educational outcomes consisted of a standardized measure of academic achievement as well as assessments used by the school district. Results revealed that cognitive control, particularly as assessed by the linguistic variant, predicted children's academic performance on math and school-based assessments, thereby suggesting that deficient cognitive control negatively impacts educational success.