Progress and attainment during primary school: the roles of literacy, numeracy and self-regulation

Kathryn Duckworth, Ingrid Schoon


Academic achievement is a cumulative process marked by both continuity and change over time. Research increasingly documents the critical importance of not only language and mathematical competency for academic success, but also the centrality of wider skills that enable pupils to regulate their own learning behaviours. This paper examines the balance that exists between change and stability in different domains of children’s academic achievement during middle childhood and the relative importance of achievement, attention and related features of self-regulation skills for subsequent achievement. Using data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, the analysis attempts to move beyond a narrow view of educational success and seeks to inform the understanding of how changes in children’s developing capabilities predict educational success at the end of primary school in English and maths. The results demonstrate a clear pattern of continuity in attainment but also evidence of mobility both up and down the achievement distributions. In line with an increasing body of literature, the findings also show evidence of a remarkable persistence in skills related to attention as important predictors of later achievement.


cognitive capital;primary school;academic achievement;literacy;numeracy;self-regulation

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