Mathematics Education Research Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 429–444 | Cite as

Early mathematical competencies and later achievement: insights from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children

  • Amy MacDonaldEmail author
  • Colin Carmichael


International research suggests that early mathematical competence predicts later mathematical achievement. In this article, we explore the relationship between mathematical competencies at 4–5 years, as measured by teacher ratings, and later results on Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) numeracy tests. Data from a nationally representative sample of 2343 children participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) are examined. In line with international studies, we report moderate correlations between preschool-entry mathematics and later NAPLAN numeracy test results. However, analysis of individual growth trajectories indicates that early mathematics predicts the initial (Year 3) level, but not subsequent growth. This suggests that early mathematical competencies are important for enhancing achievement in early schooling, but that the quality of mathematics education provided in the schooling years is critical for future development.


Early childhood Assessment Competencies NAPLAN National testing 



The authors would like to thank all involved in the LSAC study. Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children was initiated and funded as part of the Australian Government Stronger Families and Communities Strategy by the Australian Government Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). The study is being undertaken in partnership with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), with advice being provided by a consortium of leading researchers at research institutions and universities throughout Australia. The data collection is undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. All views expressed in this paper are the authors’ own and do not represent the views of FaHCSIA or AIFS.


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Copyright information

© Mathematics Education Research Group of Australasia, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia

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