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Does school type in pre-primary education matter for learning outcomes? Inequalities in pre-primary education and academic achievement in Korea

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Abstract:

Inequality in the opportunity to access pre-primary education has been importantly addressed to explain the mechanisms of social stratification by education and policy targeting educational inequality (e.g., the Head Start program). Pre-primary education can be strategically used for upper-class parents to establish a different starting line from other groups prior to beginning public schooling, because they can expend their socio-economic resources on their children’s education at the pre-primary level. Even though the impact on educational inequality at primary and secondary levels of unequal access to pre-primary education as determined by family socio-economic status is worrying, however, there is little empirical evidence on that impact using large-scale national or international data sets in Korea. In Korea where to the extent to which the opportunity to access to pre-primary education is open to most children regardless of their family background, the more serious concern related to educational inequality has become the type of pre-primary education that children can access. Especially, private schools at pre-primary education level that function as an effective tool to facilitate social reproduction among upper-class parents. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to clarify the complex associations among family socio-economic status, pre-primary education school type and academic achievement in Korea. Since Korea is a country where the public education system is well established and covers primary to upper-secondary levels, a study of unequal access to pre-primary education should reveal mechanism of underrepresentation for educational inequality.

In order to examine the associations of socio-economic status, pre-primary school type, and academic achievement among 15-year-old students in Korea, this study uses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 data sets. The dependent variables are reading and math test scores provided as 10 plausible values, and the independent variables are school types of pre-primary education and family socio-economic status. Pre-primary education school type is categorized as ‘none’, ‘public management and mainly public funding’, ‘private management and mainly public funding’, and ‘private management and mainly private funding.’ Family socio-economic status is a single composite score created from parental education, parental occupational status and home possessions related with wealth. As a main analytical strategy, two regressions are employed to show unequal access to pre-primary education by family socio-economic status and its impact on learning outcomes among 15-year-old Korean students. First, a multinomial regression examines the association between school types of pre-primary education and family socio-economic status; second, an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression examines which type of pre-primary education matters for academic achievement, after controlling for family socio-economic status and other covariates.

Primarily, family socio-economic status is indeed found to significantly correlate with pre-primary education choice prior to elementary school entry. Compared to other groups, students at privately managed and mainly privately funded pre-primary schools showed the highest level of family socio-economic status. Then, after controlling for family socio-economic status, the hypothesis that pre-primary education in general matters for academic achievement among 15-year-old Korean students is found not to be supported, whereas private pre-primary education (i.e., private managed and mainly privately funded schools) does appear to have a positive effect on academic achievement.

This research has theoretical and policy implications. Theoretically, it confirms educational inequality prior to the commencement of public schooling and its impact on academic achievement at secondary level of education. The Korean case indicates that school choice at pre-primary education level differs by family socio-economic status and that private kindergartens can benefit academic achievement even where public schooling is highly equalized and widespread. Finally, therefore, on the basis of this theoretical implication, Korean national policy attempts related to relieving inequalities in pre-primary education are addressed.
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Name: Comparative and International Education Society Conference
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MLA Citation:

Jeon, Haram., Kim, Kyung Keun. and Shim, Jaehwee. "Does school type in pre-primary education matter for learning outcomes? Inequalities in pre-primary education and academic achievement in Korea" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel, Mexico City, Mexico, <Not Available>. 2018-10-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1354897_index.html>

APA Citation:

Jeon, H. , Kim, K. and Shim, J. "Does school type in pre-primary education matter for learning outcomes? Inequalities in pre-primary education and academic achievement in Korea" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Comparative and International Education Society Conference, Hilton Mexico City Reforma Hotel, Mexico City, Mexico <Not Available>. 2018-10-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1354897_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: Inequality in the opportunity to access pre-primary education has been importantly addressed to explain the mechanisms of social stratification by education and policy targeting educational inequality (e.g., the Head Start program). Pre-primary education can be strategically used for upper-class parents to establish a different starting line from other groups prior to beginning public schooling, because they can expend their socio-economic resources on their children’s education at the pre-primary level. Even though the impact on educational inequality at primary and secondary levels of unequal access to pre-primary education as determined by family socio-economic status is worrying, however, there is little empirical evidence on that impact using large-scale national or international data sets in Korea. In Korea where to the extent to which the opportunity to access to pre-primary education is open to most children regardless of their family background, the more serious concern related to educational inequality has become the type of pre-primary education that children can access. Especially, private schools at pre-primary education level that function as an effective tool to facilitate social reproduction among upper-class parents. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to clarify the complex associations among family socio-economic status, pre-primary education school type and academic achievement in Korea. Since Korea is a country where the public education system is well established and covers primary to upper-secondary levels, a study of unequal access to pre-primary education should reveal mechanism of underrepresentation for educational inequality.

In order to examine the associations of socio-economic status, pre-primary school type, and academic achievement among 15-year-old students in Korea, this study uses the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 data sets. The dependent variables are reading and math test scores provided as 10 plausible values, and the independent variables are school types of pre-primary education and family socio-economic status. Pre-primary education school type is categorized as ‘none’, ‘public management and mainly public funding’, ‘private management and mainly public funding’, and ‘private management and mainly private funding.’ Family socio-economic status is a single composite score created from parental education, parental occupational status and home possessions related with wealth. As a main analytical strategy, two regressions are employed to show unequal access to pre-primary education by family socio-economic status and its impact on learning outcomes among 15-year-old Korean students. First, a multinomial regression examines the association between school types of pre-primary education and family socio-economic status; second, an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression examines which type of pre-primary education matters for academic achievement, after controlling for family socio-economic status and other covariates.

Primarily, family socio-economic status is indeed found to significantly correlate with pre-primary education choice prior to elementary school entry. Compared to other groups, students at privately managed and mainly privately funded pre-primary schools showed the highest level of family socio-economic status. Then, after controlling for family socio-economic status, the hypothesis that pre-primary education in general matters for academic achievement among 15-year-old Korean students is found not to be supported, whereas private pre-primary education (i.e., private managed and mainly privately funded schools) does appear to have a positive effect on academic achievement.

This research has theoretical and policy implications. Theoretically, it confirms educational inequality prior to the commencement of public schooling and its impact on academic achievement at secondary level of education. The Korean case indicates that school choice at pre-primary education level differs by family socio-economic status and that private kindergartens can benefit academic achievement even where public schooling is highly equalized and widespread. Finally, therefore, on the basis of this theoretical implication, Korean national policy attempts related to relieving inequalities in pre-primary education are addressed.


 
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