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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Christine Merrell

Demetriou, A., Merrell, C. & Tymms, P. (2017). Mapping and Predicting Literacy and Reasoning Skills from Early to Later Primary School. Learning and Individual Differences 54: 217-225.

Author(s) from Durham


This study explored the relations between early indicators of literacy, numeracy and reasoning with later school performance in these abilities. In pursuit of this aim, appropriate tests were administered to 1073 children at the start of school in England who were divided into four age groups (mean ages of groups: 4.12, 4.37, 4.62, and 4.88 years old) and again during their third year of primary school when they were six to seven years of age. Analysis of variance revealed large improvement in all abilities throughout the fifth year of life. Girls outperformed boys only in language but differences diminished extensively at the end of this year. Structural equation modeling showed that all three abilities of language, mathematics and reasoning emerge as distinct factors strongly related to a general ability factor (g) at both testing waves. General ability at the start of school highly predicted G in the third year of primary school at age 6–7 years. The reading ability of children in the second half of the fifth year was also directly related to g at age 6–7, especially for girls. Implications for developmental theory and education are discussed.