The Role of Mediators in the Development of Longitudinal Mathematics Achievement Associations

Despite research demonstrating a strong association between early and later mathematics achievement, few studies have investigated mediators of this association. Using longitudinal data (n = 1,362), this study tested the extent to which mathematics self-concepts, school placement, executive functioning, and proficiency in fractions and division account for the association between mathematics achievement in first grade and at age 15. As hypothesized, a strong longitudinal association between first-grade and adolescent mathematics achievement was present (β = .36) even after controlling for a host of background characteristics, including cognitive skills and reading ability. The mediators accounted for 39% of this association, with mathematics self-concept, gifted and talented placement, and knowledge of fractions and division serving as significant mediators.