Preschool participation, school attendance and academic achievement

Stefanie Schurer, Georgina Nutton, John Mckenzie, Jiunn-Yih Su, Sven Silburn

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This chapter builds on the findings reported in Chapter 5 to investigate how children’s participation in preschool is linked with their subsequent attendance and academic achievement in primary school. Understanding the nature of these relationships is of high policy relevance considering the increased investment of the Australian and Northern Territory (NT) governments in preschool education over the past decade through programs such as Universal Access to Preschool (Council of Australian Governments (COAG) 2009) and the National Partnership for Indigenous Early Childhood (COAG 2008). The series of analyses reported here describe the pattern of these associations separately for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. They further investigate how the three main modes of remote preschool delivery in the NT (i.e. general preschools (including satellite preschools), early years (EY) classes, and mobile preschools) performed in improving children’s propensity to have better attendance in their early primary school years, and how this differs for children in urban and remote settings. School fixed effects regression modelling, with appropriate adjustment for potential and available confounders, is used to predict how much Aboriginal children’s levels of preschool attendance would need to be increased to lift their EY school attendance above the NT Aboriginal population mean. We then describe how different levels of preschool attendance of Aboriginal children in remote regions are associated with higher levels of school achievement (National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN)), and the extent to which this is mediated by their preschool attendance rates. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of the findings, particularly on the evidence they provide for defining the minimum preschool attendance needed for longer-term educational benefits. This discussion also suggests areas for future data linkage and qualitative research.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarly Pathways to School Learning
Subtitle of host publicationLessons from the NT Data Linkage Study
EditorsSven Silburn, Steve Guthridge, Juinn-Yih Su, Vincent He, Sharon Haste
Place of PublicationDarwin
PublisherMenzies School of Health Research
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-922104-34-2
ISBN (Print)978-1-922104-33-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


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