Executive Function Skills and School Success in Young Children Experiencing Homelessness

Ann S. Masten, Janette E. Herbers, Christopher David Desjardins, J. J. Cutuli, Christopher M. McCormick, Julianna K. Sapienza, Jeffrey D. Long, Philip David Zelazo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

139 Scopus citations


The authors examined the role of executive function (EF) skills as a predictor of kindergarten or first-grade adjustment in 138 children living in shelters for homeless families. During the summer, children completed a battery of six EF tasks and three IQ measures. Teachers later rated children's school adjustment in five domains of achievement and social conduct. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the construct validity of EF as distinct from the general factor in IQ tests. The differential predictive validity of EF scores for school adjustment was tested by hierarchical regression analysis in relation to IQ. Results supported the hypothesis that EF has unique predictive significance for homeless children. Findings also corroborate the feasibility and validity of EF assessments in community settings and contribute to growing evidence that EF skills are important for school success. Implications are discussed for addressing educational disparities for homeless and highly mobile children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-384
Number of pages10
JournalEducational Researcher
Issue number9
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


  • achievement gap
  • at-risk students
  • cognition
  • factor analysis
  • poverty
  • regression analyses
  • urban education


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