Physician Resources Home arrow Medical News arrow Adhd medication associated with higher academic performance
Adhd medication associated with higher academic performance
Written by Medical News Feed   
Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take medication to treat the condition tend to do better in math and reading compared to their peers who also have ADHD but do not take medication, according to data from a national survey. The NIMH-funded study was published in the May 2009 issue of Pediatrics.



ADHD, which is characterized by poor concentration, distractibility, hyperactivity, impulsivity and other symptoms, can adversely affect a child's academic performance. Compared to their peers without the disorder, children with ADHD tend to have lower grades, lower math and reading scores, and are more likely to repeat a year or drop out of school.

Richard Scheffler, Ph.D., of the University of California Berkeley, and colleagues analyzed a sample of 594 children diagnosed with ADHD who were part of the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study—Kindergarten Class of 1998-1999, a U.S. Department of Education survey. The children were surveyed for various issues five times between kindergarten and fifth grade. The researchers focused on the children's math and reading scores to determine if medication use for ADHD was associated with academic achievement during elementary school.

Results of the Study

The study found that students with ADHD who took medication had math scores that were on average 2.9 points higher and reading scores on average 5.4 points higher than their unmedicated peers with ADHD. This equated to gains that were equivalent to the progress typically made in one-fifth of a school year in math, and one-third of a school year in reading. Improvements in reading, however, were seen only in students who had been taking medication for at least two rounds of the survey. The authors suggest that the different findings between math and reading scores may point to underlying differences in the process of learning.


The findings echo previous studies that have found that use of ADHD medication can improve children's attention and memory skills, which can help them do better in school. In addition, the improvement is notable because early academic success often predicts later school progress, said the researchers. However, they caution that the gains are not enough to eliminate the achievement gap typically seen between children with ADHD and those without the disorder.

What's Next

The findings support the need for long-term studies designed to better understand the relationship between medication use and academic achievement in children with ADHD. The authors also conclude by noting that more research is needed on combining medication with behavioral interventions to improve the school performance of children with ADHD.


Scheffler RM, Brown TT, Fulton BD, Hinshaw SP, Levine P, Stone S. Positive association between attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder medication use and academic achievement during elementary school. Pediatrics. 2009 May. 123(5): 1273-1279.

Discuss this article on the forums. (0 posts)


< Prev   Next >

Common Diseases

Swine Flu - Updates and information on H1N1 2009 (AKA Swine Influenza) pandemic.

Ankylosing spondylitis - Current protocols for diagnosis and treatment options.

Wegener granulomatosis - Autoimmune etiology and clinical course.

Diabetes - disease and management information, including diagnosis, typical treatment plans and diabetes supplies.


Medical Careers

The US medical jobs market has stayed hot for health care providers. Whether you believe that a provider shortage is in the offing or that the ratio of physicians-to-patients is too high, physician jobs and nursing jobs abound.

A wide variety of medical jobs can be found in the netdoc health care job listings. Particular strengths include permanent and locum tenens physician jobs, nursing jobs across the US, and radiology positions.

Other resources include physician salary information, medical career guidance, and the ability to post physician jobs.


When hiring your medical practice office manager, what was the most important consideration?
Copyright 2005 - 2020 Medical Resource Group, LLC. All rights reserved.