Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has long been associated with poor grades, poor reading and math test scores, and being held back. But despite billions of dollars spent on special education programs, the number of ADHD students dropping out of high school and college is alarming. Now a new study shows that ADHD students don’t have to be “at risk” students.
ADHD Students are “At Risk” Students
A few sobering facts to consider about the impact of ADHD on students’ success:
- High school students with ADHD are 4 times more likely to drop out of school than the general population.
- 42% of ADHD students are likely to be held back (compared to 13% general population).
- 60% of ADHD students are likely to be suspended (compared to only 19% of the general population).
- And 35% of ADHD students won’t graduate at all and those who stay in school will suffer from lack of confidence, higher risk of substance abuse and menial grades (on average a C- or D+).
- Only 22% of students with ADHD enter college.
- Only 5% will graduate.
Why ADHD Students are at Risk
Students with ADHD are vulnerable because ADHD impacts the portion of the brain that regulates what is known as executive functioning. ADHD students have executive function deficits in attention, planning and organization, prioritization, impulse control, memory, time management, and higher-order conceptual thinking.
Turns out a student’s executive function levels are well known by researches to be a hallmark of academic success.
Coaching Boosts Executive Functioning
Edge Foundation’s study offers hope for students with ADHD because it definitively links coaching to improved executive functioning. And improved executive functioning means more success in school.
ADHD students who participated in Edge coaching sessions demonstrated statistically significant, higher executive functioning than ADHD students who did not receive coaching. According to the study, “The magnitude of the effect size for self regulation was more than double the typical educational intervention, and executive functioning was quadruple. Findings with effect sizes that large are rare.”
Coaching has long been used by the corporate world to improve performance of CEOs and executives, but little study has been done until now on the impact this particular kind of intervention may have on populations with learning disabilities, like those living with ADHD. While medication has been shown to improve academic productivity (better note-taking, scores on quizzes and worksheets, and homework completion), medication alone is not associated with skills like better learning, reading or the ability to apply knowledge, all of which are critical in a successful post secondary education.
ADHD Coaching Research Study Results
Students who received Edge coaching showed substantial gains in their overall approach to learning. The study showed that students who received Edge coaching services showed significant improvement in their abilitiy to organize, direct and manage cognitive activities, emotional responses and overt behaviors. They were able to formulate goals more realistically and consistently work toward achieving them, manage their time more effectively, and stick with tasks even when they found them challenging.
How Edge Coaching Works
Edge Foundation coaches work with students in seven major areas: scheduling, goal setting, confidence building, organizing, focusing, prioritizing and persisting at tasks. Coaches help students assess their environments, identify needs, set goals, and offer suggestions and guidance. They monitor student progress and goals through regular phone or email check-ins. The protocol of regularly checking in with clients provides for more structure and accountability. When coaching teens and college students, check-ins are usually made every day.