Longitudinal Stability and Growth in Literacy and Numeracy in Australian School Students
- 561 Downloads
We explored the genetic and environmental influence on both stability and growth in literacy and numeracy in 1927 Australian twin pairs from Grade 3 to Grade 9. Participants were tested on reading, spelling, grammar and punctuation, writing, and numeracy. In each domain, performance across time was highly correlated and this stability in performance was primary due to genes. Key findings on growth showed that reading followed a compensatory growth pattern that was largely due to genetic effects, while variation in growth in the other literacy domains was predominantly due to environmental influences. Genes and the shared environment influenced growth in numeracy for girls, while for boys it was influenced by the shared and unique environment. These results suggest that individual differences in growth of reading are primarily due to a genetically influenced developmental delay in the acquisition of necessary skills, while environmental influences, perhaps including different schools or teachers, are more important for the other domains.
KeywordsReading Numeracy Academic achievement Twins Growth Genetic influences
This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Grant (DP120102414). The Australian Twin Registry is supported by an enabling Grant (628911) from the National Health and Medical Research Council. We thank the Australian Twin Registry, and all of the twins, triplets and parents involved.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
Katrina L. Grasby and William L. Coventry declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures were performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the University of New England (HE12-150).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (2015a) National assessment program—literacy and numeracy 2014: technical report. ACARA, SydneyGoogle Scholar
- Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (2015b) National protocols for test administration. ACARA, SydneyGoogle Scholar
- Bloom HS, Hill CJ, Black AR, Lipsey MW (2008) Performance trajectories and performance gaps as achievement effect-size benchmarks for educational interventions. J Res Educ Eff 1(4):289–328Google Scholar
- Byrne B, Samuelsson S, Wadsworth S, Hulslander J, Corley R, DeFries J, Quain P, Willcutt E, Olson R (2007) Longitudinal twin study of early literacy development: preschool through Grade 1. Read Writ 20(1):77–102Google Scholar
- Christopher ME, Hulslander J, Byrne B, Samuelsson S, Keenan JM, Pennington B, DeFries JC, Wadsworth SJ, Willcutt E, Olson RK (2013a) The genetic and environmental etiologies of individual differences in early reading growth in Australia, the United States, and Scandinavia. J Exp Child Psychol 115(3):453–467CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Christopher ME, Hulslander J, Byrne B, Samuelsson S, Keenan JM, Pennington B, DeFries JC, Wadsworth SJ, Willcutt EG, Olson RK (2013b) Modeling the etiology of individual differences in early reading development: evidence for strong genetic influences. Sci Stud Read 17:350–368CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Grasby KL, Coventry WL, Byrne B, Olson RK, Medland SE (2016) Genetic and environmental influences on literacy and numeracy performance in Australian school children in Grades 3, 5, 7, and 9. Behav Genet. doi: 10.1007/s10519-016-9797-z
- Hattie J (2008) Visible learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Kovas Y, Haworth CMA, Dale PS, Plomin R, Weinberg RA, Thomson JM, Fischer KW (2007) The genetic and environmental origins of learning abilities and disabilities in the early school years. Monogr Soc Res Child Dev 72(3):i-156Google Scholar
- Masters G, Rowley G, Ainley J, Khoo S (2008) Reporting and comparing school performances. http://research.acer.edu.au/ar_misc/8
- Plomin R, DeFries JC, Knopik VS, Neiderhiser JM (2013) Behavioral genetics. Worth, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Senate Standing Committee on Education and Employment (2014) Effectiveness of the national assessment program—literacy and numeracy. Canberra: Senate Printing Unit. http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_and_Employment/Naplan13/Report/index