Private elementary schooling and achievement gains in South Korea

Soo Yong Byun, Hee Jin Chung, Jee Bin Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using longitudinal data for fifth graders from the Korean Education Longitudinal Study of 2013, we examined sector differences in student background characteristics. We also examined the effect of attending private elementary schools on achievement gains. To estimate the private elementary school effect more rigorously, we used propensity score matching approaches to address selection bias. We found that while private elementary schools largely served students from socioeconomically advantaged families, attending private elementary schools had a positive effect on English and mathematics achievement gains. We discussed implications of these findings for the potential role of private elementary schools in contributing to educational inequality in South Korea.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-43
Number of pages19
JournalKEDI Journal of Educational Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2020S1A3A2A02091529) and by the Population Research Institute at Penn State University, which is supported by an infrastructure grant by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P2CHD041025). The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the granting agencies. An earlier version of this manuscript was presented at the 14th Conference of the Korean Educational Longitudinal Study, November 28, 2020, Seoul National University. The authors thank Haram Jeon for his thoughtful comments on an earlier draft. The authors also thank Heera Kim for her excellent administrative support. Any remaining errors are the authors’ responsibility.

Publisher Copyright:
© Korean Educational Development Institute 2021.


  • Educational inequality
  • Longitudinal research
  • Private elementary schools
  • Propensity score matching
  • School effects
  • South Korea


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