Low and High Mathematics Achievement in Japanese, Chinese, and American Elementary-School Children

David H. Uttal*, Max Lummis, Harold W. Stevenson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This study investigated factors associated with low and high levels of achievement in mathematics. Chinese, Japanese, and American first- and fifth-grade children who received scores in the top or bottom deciles of a mathematics test were given tests of intellectual ability and reading achievement, and the children and their mothers were interviewed. There were large overall differences in the mean level of mathematics achievement among the three locations. High mathematics achievers in all three locations received higher average scores on the intellectual ability tests than did the average mathematics achievers, who in turn received higher scores than low-achievers. In all three locations, mothers' ratings of their children's intellectual abilities and of their own abilities in mathematics varied directly with the children's level of achievement in mathematics. Taken together, the results indicate that factors associated with levels of achievement in mathematics operate in a similar fashion across three cultures that differ greatly in their children's level of mathematics achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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