Pediatric Asthma Is Associated With Poorer 3-Year Academic Achievement in Urban Elementary and Middle-School Students

Acad Pediatr. 2021 Aug;21(6):1009-1017. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2020.11.006. Epub 2020 Nov 15.


Objective: Asthma has been associated with worse academic performance in a single school year, yet this association may be magnified over time as students with asthma continue to fall behind. This study examined the relationship between asthma and standardized test performance aggregated across 3 school years, including whether performance varied by likelihood of having significant asthma.

Methods: Data were from students in grades K-8 at 2 urban public schools in the Northeastern United States (2015-2018). Asthma was based on parent- and self-report and school health center records. Standardized test performance was assessed using Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Mixed effects linear and logistic regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between asthma and performance during 3 school years.

Results: Any asthma was associated with worse MAP performance across the 3 academic years. Students with the most significant asthma demonstrated worse performance on MAP and PARCC. Aggregating across 3 school years, students scored 3.17 points worse on MAP reading (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.7-5.63; P = .012) and 3.56 points worse on MAP mathematics (95% CI: 0.52-6.6; P = .022); they had 48.8% (95% CI: 1.9%-73.2%; P = .044) and 58.0% (95% CI: 21%-78%; P = .007) lower odds of proficiency on PARCC English/Language Arts and Mathematics, respectively compared to those without asthma.

Conclusions: The relationship between asthma and poorer academic achievement in 1 school year may be magnified over multiple years, particularly among those with more significant asthma. School-based asthma interventions may support academic growth and more equitable health outcomes.

Keywords: achievement; asthma; development; school-based health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success*
  • Achievement
  • Asthma* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Schools
  • Students