This paper draws on findings fromn the longitudinal Competent Learners study which has tracked 500 students from when they were in early childhood education to age 20. It focuses on those students who, despite being in the lowest quartile for reading and numeracy competencies at age 8, nevertheless succeeded in gaining a Level 2 or 3 National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) award. The paper analyses the learner qualities that contributed to the difference between these students and other early low achievers (who continued to be low achievers). Indications are that the ability to identify intrinsic measures of success and attitudes to learning make a difference.The paper discusses the implications for teaching.
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