Variance in academic performance that persists when situational variables are held constant suggests that whether students fail or thrive depends not only on circumstance, but also on relatively stable individual differences in how children respond to circumstance. More academically talented children generally outperform their less able peers, but much less is known about how traits unrelated to general intelligence influence academic outcomes. This paper addresses several related questions: What insights can be gleaned from historical interest in the role of temperament in the classroom? What does recent empirical research say about the specific dimensions of temperament most important to successful academic performance? In particular, which aspects of temperament most strongly influence school readiness, academic achievement, and educational attainment? What factors mediate and moderate associations between temperament and academic outcomes? What progress has been made in deliberately cultivating aspects of temperament that matter most to success in school? And, finally, for researchers keenly interested in better understanding how and why temperament influences academic success, in which direction does future progress lie?