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ADHD And Achievement

Thomas W. Frazier, Eric A. Youngstrom, Joseph J. Glutting, Marley W. Watkins

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This article presents results from two interrelated studies. The first study conducted a meta-analysis of the published literature since 1990 to determine the magnitude of achievement problems associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Effect sizes were significantly different between participants with and without ADHD (sample weighted r = .32, sample weighted d = . 71; p = .001). Effects were also examined according to the moderators of age, gender, achievement domain (reading, math, spelling), measurement method (standardized tests vs. grades, parent/teacher ratings, etc.), sample type (clinical vs. nonclinical), and system used to identify ADHD ( DSM-III-R vs. DSM-IV). Significant differences emerged from the moderator comparisons. The second study, using averaged effect sizes from the first study as a baseline for comparison, investigated achievement levels for an understudied age group with ADHD, namely, college students. Unlike previous studies at the college level, the sample incorporated both student and parent ratings ( N = 380 dyads). The results were comparable to outcomes from the meta-analysis for college students and adults. Analyses demonstrated modest ( R = .21) but meaningful predictive validity across 1 year to end-of-first-year grades. However, unlike earlier studies with children and adolescents, student ratings were as predictive as parent ratings. Findings are discussed in terms of the impact of moderator variables on ADHD and achievement.