European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 385–406

Pathsways to school achievement in very preterm and full term children

  • Wolfgang Schneider
  • Dieter Wolke
  • Matthias Schlagmüller
  • Renate Meyer


Individual differences in academic success were investigated in a geographically defined whole-population sample of very preterm children with a gestational age of less than 32 weeks or a birth weight of less than 1500 gm. The sample consisted of 264 very preterm children (75.6% of German-speaking survivors) and 264 controls matched for gender, socioeconomic status, marital status and age of mother, who were studied from birth. The present analyses focused on the impact of cognitive skills assessed at ages 6 and 8 on academic success at the age 13. IQ scores, prereading skills, reading, spelling, and math performance assessed during the last kindergarten year and again at the end of Grade 2 were used as predictors of academic success in early adolescence. Differences between very pretern children and controls in cognitive abilities already observed in earlier assessments remained stable over time, with controls on average performing more than half a standard deviation above the level of preterm children. Preterm children also performed poorer on the literacy measures and indicators of math performance. Multivariate and causal modeling revealed different prediction patterns for the two groups. Whereas IQ was particularly important for the prediction of academic success in the pre-term sample, general IQ was less relevant for the prediction of academic success in the control group. When subgroups of at-risk children were formed according to birth weight categories, we found that school problems were most pronounced for children with extremely low birth weight (1000 gm and less).

Key words

Longitudinal study Preterm children School achievement 


Des différences individuelles concernant le succès académique sont recherchées en cadre d’une population géographiquement définie entière des enfants nés avant terme âgés de moins de 32 semaines avant la naissance et un poids de naissance moins de 1500 grammes. La population concernée se compose de 264 prématurés (75,6% des survivants qui parlent l’allemand) et 264 enfants pour le groupe de contrôle, géminés le sexe, l’état socio-économique, la situation de famille et l’âge de la mère, qui sont examinés depuis leur naissance. Les analyses actuelles sont pointées à l’influence des capacités cognitives reçues à l’âge de 6 et 8 ans au succès académique à l’âge de 13. Les scores de l’intelligence, les capacités avant lire, lire, épeler et la capacité en mathématiques obtenus pendant la dernière année au jardin d’enfants et de nouveau à la fin de “Grade 2” sont utilisés pour la prédiction du succès académique à l’âge adolescent. Les différences entre les prématurés et les enfants de contrôle concernant les capacités cognitives déjà observées dans les recherches précédentes restent stables tout le temps, les enfants de contrôle montrent une performance en moyen une demie déviation mieux que les prématurés. Les prématurés sont aussi pire concernant les mesures de la littérature et la performance en mathématiques. Les modèles multivariates et de causalité montrent des modèles prévoyantes différentes pour les deux groupes. Pendant que l’intelligence est particulièrement importante pour la prédiction du succès académique dans la population prématurée, l’intelligence générale est moins important pour la prédiction du succès académique dans le groupe de contrôle. Si des sous-groupes des enfants en risque sont formés accordés aux catégories du poids de naissance, on a montré que les problèmes à l’école sont particulièrement valable pour les enfants de poids extrêmement bas (1000 grammes et encore moins).


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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wolfgang Schneider
    • 1
  • Dieter Wolke
    • 2
    • 3
  • Matthias Schlagmüller
    • 1
  • Renate Meyer
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of Community based MedicineUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  3. 3.Zurich
  4. 4.BurgthannGermany

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