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Teachers’ perceptions of behavioral problems in Dutch primary education pupils: The role of relative age

Journal article
Authors Albert H. Wienen
Laura Batstra
Ernst D. Thoutenhoofd
Peter de Jonge
Elisabeth H. Bos
Published in PLoS ONE
Volume 13
Issue 10
Pages 1-10
ISSN 1932-6203
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Pages 1-10
Language en
Subject categories Theory of science regarding care and nursing, Other Medical Sciences, Educational Sciences


A growing number of studies suggest that relatively young behavior of pupils gives them a much greater likelihood of being diagnosed with a disorder such as ADHD. This ‘relative age effect’ has also been demonstrated for special educational needs, learning difficulties, being bullied, and so on. The current study investigated the relationship between relative age of pupils in primary education and teachers’ perception of their behavior. The study sample included 1973 pupils, aged between 6 and 12. Six linear mixed models were carried out with birth day in a year as predictor variable and ‘total problem score’, ‘problems with hyperactiv- ity’, ‘behavioral problems’, ‘emotional problems’, ‘problems with peers’ and ‘pro-social behavior’ as dependent variables. Random intercepts were added for school and teacher level. Cluster-mean centering disaggregated between-school effects and within-school effects. We found no associations between relative age of pupils and teacher perceptions of their behavior. Several explanations are postulated to account for these findings which con- tradict prior studies on relative age effects.

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