Middle school friendships and academic achievement in early adolescence: A longitudinal analysis

Marie Hélène Véronneau, Thomas J. Dishion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Early adolescence is a critical transition period for the maintenance of academic achievement. One factor that school systems often fail to take into account is the influence of friends on academic achievement during middle school. This study investigated the influence of friends' characteristics on change in academic achievement from Grade 6 to Grade 8 and the role of students' own characteristics as moderators of this relationship. The sample included 1,278 participants (698 girls). Linear regressions suggest that students with academically engaged friends may achieve to levels higher than expected in Grade 8. However, when considering the significant, negative influence of friends' problem behavior, the role of friends' school engagement became nonsignificant. Low-achieving girls who had high-achieving friends in Grade 6 had lower academic achievement than expected by Grade 8. In contrast, high-achieving girls seemed to benefit from having high-achieving friends. Implications for theory and prevention efforts targeting young adolescents are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)99-124
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • academic achievement
  • behavior problems
  • friendship
  • middle school students
  • student engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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