The paper examines the influences on, and consequences of, low achievement defined as scores within the lowest achievement quartile. Low achievement is moderately associated with socioeconomic background and Indigenous status and the relationships with gender, ethnicity, region, family type, state and region differ for reading and mathematics. Low achievement substantially reduces the chances of school completion and university entrance. It has much less impact on other forms of post-secondary education and training. There are stronger differences in labour market outcomes between low and higher achievers for young women than for young men. This study suggests the policies promoting the securing of full-time work soon after completing full-time education should reduce the detrimental effects of low achievement on labour market outcomes.
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