Using longitudinal data for fifth graders from the Korean Education Longitudinal Study of 2013, we examined sector differences in student background characteristics. We also examined the effect of attending private elementary schools on achievement gains. To estimate the private elementary school effect more rigorously, we used propensity score matching approaches to address selection bias. We found that while private elementary schools largely served students from socioeconomically advantaged families, attending private elementary schools had a positive effect on English and mathematics achievement gains. We discussed implications of these findings for the potential role of private elementary schools in contributing to educational inequality in South Korea.
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