This paper reports a survey of 355 parents and 166 teachers of young children starting school in New South Wales, Australia. Parents and teachers were asked to rate a list of 20 items in answer to the question 'How important are the following for deciding whether a child has had a successful first two terms of school?' The results are presented in relation to individual items as well as broad categories, with comparisons between the perceptions of teachers and parents. Overall, teachers placed most emphasis on the areas of children's adjustment to the school context and their dispositions or feelings about being at school. Less emphasis was attributed to areas such as knowledge. Parents were more likely than teachers to focus on knowledge, as well as children's dispositions. Implications are drawn for collaborative interaction between parents and teachers as children start school.