First, there is no discernible difference among the middle schools in Korea, as only about five percent variation in mathematics and science achievement is attributed to school characteristics, and performance is approximately similar. Of them, school ...
First, there is no discernible difference among the middle schools in Korea, as only about five percent variation in mathematics and science achievement is attributed to school characteristics, and performance is approximately similar. Of them, school location is the most explanatory factor. This finding suggests that schooling itself can’t greatly alter students’ background or socioeconomic status.
Second, variables used in this study for both schools- and students affect each ability group differently. In mathematics, class with similar ability group and self-confidence in mathematics affect the high ability group, while expectation of further education, self-confidence, preference of mathematics, and socio-economic status of parents affect the middle ability group. School location, academic pressure of the mother, and the teacher’s enthusiasm in class, class with similar contents, in addition to learning motivation variables, affect mathematics achievement of the low ability group.
Learning motivation variables such as expectation of further education, self-confidence in mathematics, preference for mathematics, affect mathematics achievement in all groups. In addition to learning motivation variables, class with similar ability was the effective variable for the high ability group, while parents-related factors were affective on middle and low ability groups. In particular, external factors-including class with similar contents, school location, academic pressure by the mother and teacher’s enthusiastic teaching - were strong factors that affect mathematics achievement of the low ability group. Since the roles of teachers and parents are important, great external support is necessary, especially in reading and learning motivation.
Korea has had an educational policy to support low ability groups for a long time. TIMSS-R results show that the percentage of Korean students reaching the 50% international benchmark is 91% (compared to the international average of, 69%). Hence average achievement scores of Korean students can be increased by assisting the low ability groups. This study might confirm that Korean educational policy had been successfully operating for the low ability students, however, it could not show effective external factors for the high ability groups. It is therefore definitely needed further study for the high ability students.
Gender differences in science achievement occur only in the middle ability group. Korean education shows large gender differences, especially in science achievement, but this is not found in the high and low ability groups. It is therefore important to find ways to assist girls in the middle group.
Finally, the study has found that instructional circumstances affect the groups differently. Classroom study using similar content was good for the low ability mathematics group, for instance, while sub-groups classified according to ability were effective for high performing students. This finding implies that recommendations of the revised the 7th Korean national curriculum would be effective in mathematics achievement.
A few researches with large-scale assessments of educational data are currently underway in Korea, while much research abroad is focused on specific topics using large-scale assessment data such as TIMSS and NAEP. It is hoped that our educational researchers will do much studies with situated and specific topics in their efforts to provide better empirical information for Korean education.