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Competent learners on the edge of adulthood: A summary of key findings from the Competent Learners @ 16 Project

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Competent Children, Competent Learners Project
Wylie, C., Hodgen, E., Hipkins, R., & Vaughan, K.
Publication Date: 
30 Apr 2009


Competent Children, Competent Learners is a longitudinal study which began in 1993 and follows the progress of a sample of around 500 New Zealand young people from early childhood education through schooling and beyond. Several reports from the age-16 phase of the project have been published. This report summaries the key findings at age 16. Earlier studies in the Competent Children Competent Learners project found that children’s cognitive and attitudinal competencies benefited from quality early childhood education. The age-16 study found that aspects of the students’ early childhood education (ECE) still had associations with their performance 11 years later. The associations were generally weaker than they had been at age 14. We found that high-quality centres had a positive, long-lasting association with students’ literacy, numeracy and logical problem-solving competencies, and also with their social skills. These associations applied irrespective of their mother’s qualification or their family income. In other words, high-quality ECE centres were still providing lasting benefits for the participants in our study 11 years later, regardless of their background. In the past, we found five measures of quality in early childhood education which had enduring effects on students’ performance. These five measures of quality continued to have an effect at age 16. They are: - staff responsiveness - staff guiding children in activities - staff asking children open-ended questions - staff joining children in their play - providing a print-saturated environment.