Academic Achievement and internalizing problems in primary and secondary school students in Portugal*

Lurdes Veríssimo Pedro Dias Elodie Santos Sofia Ortigão About the authors


The present study aimed to analyze the differences in the internalizing problems (anxiety, depression, somatic complaints), assessed by different informants (parents, teachers and young people), according to the level of academic achievement in primary and secondary school students. For this, a stratified sample representative of the Portuguese population comprised of 1510 students, between the ages of 11 and 18 years. From the set of Achenbach System of Empirically Based Assessment battery tests validated for the Portuguese population the Child Behavior Checklist 6-18, the Youth Self-Report 11-18 and the Teacher Report Form 6-18 were used. In general, the results show that students with low academic achievement have more internalizing problems than students with average and/or high academic achievement. However, in the 7th, 8th and 9th grades, from the perspective of the young people themselves, students with high level of academic achievement have higher levels of anxiety/depression, in comparison to students with low academic achievement. These results demonstrate that, apart from the students with low academic achievement being at risk and vulnerable to internalizing problems, it is also necessary to pay special attention to students with high academic achievement. These findings resulted in practical implications relevant to school contexts, more precisely when considering the correlation between academic achievement and psychological well-being.

Academic achievement; Psychological well-being; Internalizing problems; Depression; Anxiety

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