Autonomy, Incentives, and School Performance: Evidence from the 2009 Autonomous Private High School Policy in Korea

Park, YoonSoo

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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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