Factors Affecting Mathematics Achievement Gaps in Korea

Youngyoul Oh


The purpose of this paper is to describe the achievement gap in Korea. Despite the success in Korea’s economy and education within a short period, deepening disparity of economic wealth has given rise to a critical issue of an achievement gap. The primary results of this study found that the determinants of the achievement gap in Korea include socioeconomic status [SES], regional factors, and private education. Independently or in combination, these three factors seem to have an influence on the differentiation of student achievement. It was revealed that parents’ academic background and family income are closely correlated with student achievement, and students from urban areas score much higher than those from rural areas. Although students with a higher level of achievement spend more time and money on taking non-school private lessons than the lower level of students, private education has little impact on the improvement of achievement scores. Finally, this paper discusses the educational policies to narrow the gap in student achievement in Korea.

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