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New Study Brings Egalitarian Education Measure under the Gun

New Study Brings Egalitarian Education Measure under the Gun

Posted February. 23, 2004 22:24,   


A new study found that average high school students in the academic credential-tiered school districts academically outperformed students in the non-tiered, so-called egalitarian, districts.

The findings of “Empirical Analysis of the Egalitarian High School Education Policy’s Effects on Academic Achievement,” the study announced by the Korea Development Institute on February 23, will likely cause controversy as it has reversed the results of the existing studies that the country’s egalitarian education policy for high schools has not hurt the academic ability of the general student population, apart from the upper tier.

According to the survey, the average score of 62.57 for high school freshmen earned in the egalitarian districts fell to 61.42 a year later. The same average score of 53.15 rose to 54.81 in the non-egalitarian districts. The academic performance of egalitarian-area students in the upper 20th percentile of the national ranking remained little changed between the first and the second year, while many of the same group in non-egalitarian areas advanced to the upper 10th percentile.

Concerning the policy’s effects on each percentile, academic improvements were evenly distributed in non-egalitarian districts.

The study was based on data found in “Study on the Education Achievement on a National Level,” a survey conducted by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) in 2001. The KICE collected data through tests of five subjects, including Korean, English, and Math, which it supervised on 1,560 high school freshmen and 1,464 sophomores in 72 mid-sized and small cities.

Prof. Kim Tae-jong of the Graduate School of International Policy at the KDI said, “The existing studies were simple comparative surveys that overlooked the regional differences in non-egalitarian districts which are located in many rural and fishery communities. This study is more objective because it was conducted on students in mid-sized and small cities.”

Prof. Yi Young of the department of economics and finance at Hanyang University said, “It appears that egalitarian schools interfered with students’ academic performances because they did not consider the different levels of academic ability in curriculum allocation. However, non-egalitarian schools have improved efficiency by attracting academically excellent students.” He concluded, “Monolithic egalitarianism is problematic.”

The Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development refuted the findings of the KDI study on the grounds that it used a study of academic achievement which has little to do with education egalitarianism. It also said the study’s credibility is dubious since it concentrated on mid-sized and small cities, blurring the differences between big cities and other municipality units.