Although recent developmental studies exploring the predictive power of intelligence and working memory (WM) for educational achievement in children have provided evidence for the importance of both variables, findings concerning the relative impact of IQ and WM on achievement have been inconsistent. Whereas IQ has been identified as the major predictor variable in a few studies, results from several other developmental investigations suggest that WM may be the stronger predictor of academic achievement. In the present study, data from the Munich Longitudinal Study on the Genesis of Individual Competencies (LOGIC) were used to explore this issue further. The secondary data analysis included data from about 200 participants whose IQ and WM was first assessed at the age of six and repeatedly measured until the ages of 18 and 23. Measures of reading, spelling, and math were also repeatedly assessed for this age range. Both regression analyses based on observed variables and latent variable structural equation modeling (SEM) were carried out to explore whether the predictive power of IQ and WM would differ as a function of time point of measurement (i.e., early vs. late assessment). As a main result of various regression analyses, IQ and WM turned out to be reliable predictors of academic achievement, both in early and later developmental stages, when previous domain knowledge was not included as additional predictor. The latter variable accounted for most of the variance in more comprehensive regression models, reducing the impact of both IQ and WM considerably. Findings from SEM analyses basically confirmed this outcome, indicating IQ impacts on educational achievement in the early phase, and illustrating the strong additional impact of previous domain knowledge on achievement at later stages of development.
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