Autonomy, Incentives, and School Performance: Evidence from the 2009 Autonomous Private High School Policy in Korea
Improving the quality of school education is one of the key policy
concerns in Korea. This paper examines whether providing schools
with adequate autonomy and incentives can meet the policy goals by
looking at a recent policy reform in Korea. In 2009, the Korean
government granted autonomy to certain private high schools on the
condition that no financial subsidies would be provided to the schools.
Because the autonomous private high schools cannot receive a subsidy,
they have a strong incentive to meet parental demands because
schools failing to meet these demands will lose students and will have
to close. Applying the value-added model to longitudinal data at the
student level, I find that students entering these autonomous schools
show faster growth in their academic achievement than their peers in
traditional non-autonomous schools. These results suggest that
providing schools with autonomy and incentives can be a useful policy
tool for improving school education.
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