A study conducted in New Zealand which appears in the journal, Nature Human Behaviour, shows a possible connection between test scores and a child’s future chance of success.
The researchers followed the lives of more than 1,000 children who had been given language, behavioral, movement and cognitive skills tests at the age of three. Those with lower scores went on to account for more than 80% of crimes, required 78% of prescriptions and received 66% of social welfare payments in adulthood.
Many factors were taken into account when evaluating the study and, while many of the children who scored lower on the tests were from disadvantaged backgrounds, a similar portion of middle class children who scored poorly encountered difficulties as adults.
As a result of the study, researchers speculate that experiences early in a child’s life have a much more significant impact on their future than previously thought.
A child’s future is not set in stone at the age of three, and providing support can be the factor that promotes growth and success.
Terrie Moffitt, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina who co-led the study, told BBC News that nearly all the children who had low scores went on to fall through “society’s cracks” and find themselves in difficult situations.
“Our research suggests that these were people who, as very young children, never got the chance that the rest of us got. They did not have the help they needed to build the skills they need to keep up in this very complicated and fast-paced economy,” Moffitt said.
Moffitt led the study with her husband, professor Avshalom Caspi, from King’s College London, and both have said that they hope the outcome will encourage governments to invest in the lives of those in need earlier in life.
Several governments have already invested in expanding nursery education over the past 20 years, and the results of this study have once again emphasized how critical those early years of learning and growth are to one’s future.
Top Image: Alberto G
Lauren Leising is a science intern and a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia.