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Study: Competition Spurs Better School Performance

Posted April. 16, 2009 09:14,   


Regions showing good results in state-administered academic aptitude tests for university admission had good teachers, sound competition among schools and areas, and independent school management.

This was according to test results between 2005 and this year released for the first time yesterday by the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation.

The southern city of Gwangju, the best performer over the five-year period, has sought to improve teacher quality and class environment since 1991, three years before the introduction of the test. Schools in the city rewarded productive teachers and provided support for good English-language teachers by encouraging competition.

Due to the project, all high schools in Gwangju have air conditioning.

“Our efforts to foster excellent teachers are bearing fruits,” said Ahn Sun-il, superintendent of the Gwangju Metropolitan Office of Education.

Another factor was fierce competition among private schools, which account for 76.5 percent of high schools in Gwangju. Among them, Munseong, Seoseok, Gwangdeok and Geumho emerged as prestigious institutions.

In smaller areas, the Yeonje district of Busan remained among the top-performing schools throughout the five-year period. Four high schools are in the district.

Students at Yeonje High School took their first aptitude test late last year. Until last year’s test was given, two of the three other schools were special purpose high schools for science or foreign language.

The Seoul suburb of Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, also has four high schools. The city’s strong showing in the test is attributable not so much to the existence of a special purpose high school, but rather that many top students in neighboring Anyang go to school in Gwacheon. The Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education allows Anyang students to go to school in Gwacheon.

Many Anyang students prefer Gwacheon because of wide differences in performance among the 24 high schools there. Gwacheon’s four high schools, however, have caught up.

Among counties, Jangseong in South Jeolla Province had one school that overwhelmed others. Part of its success is due to 80 percent of students living in a dormitory. Jangseong High School was designated an “independent school” in 2006 and accepts students from the entire province.

Jangseong High School absorbs good students from Mokpo and Yeosu, as it concentrates its classes on core subjects such as Korean, English and math and stresses educational excellence.

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