The results of the college entrance examination were published for the first time yesterday.
The government released details of the results of the college scholastic ability test (CSAT) taken nationwide for the first time ever Wednesday, showing a wide performance gap among regions. The disparity drew concerns that harsher competition could worsen it.
Gwangju Metropolitan City, in the far south of the Korean peninsula, topped the list in foreign languages, English, and social science for five consecutive years, according to the education ministry. About 49 percent of students there were above grade four out of a total of nine grades, which is roughly equivalent to being in the top 40 percent.
On the other hand, South Chungcheong Province marked the highest portion of students from grade seven to nine, which is accountable for the bottom 23 percent.
The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, a state-run evaluation agency, said students in Seoul and large cities outscored those in rural areas. It said those at elite schools such as foreign language schools or science schools marked far higher than ordinary schools, adding that gaps between the schools mounted up to 73 points.
While I haven't found the data for individual schools, or anything beyond the summaries in the papers, you can find various charts on the internet. The one above ranks which counties, cities, and city wards have the highest percentage of students in the top percentiles in Korean language, math, and foreign language sections. There are two math sections, and the student chooses one, depending on the type of university (s)he wishes to enter.
The following scan from the Seoul Shinmun echoes what we read last night in the Korea Times, and indicates what percentage of students in Korea's administrative divisions ranked in the upper and lower percentiles (click to enlarge).
Gwangju has the highest percentage of students in the upper percentile for foreign language, with Jeju in second place and Gangwon in third. Matter of fact Gwangju has had the highest percentage in that top-performing students for all the years shown on the above chart. Jeollanam-do has among the lowest percentages of students in the upper percentiles, but is fairly average in other areas. However, Jeollanam-do's Jangseong county ranks at the top of each subject this year.
It's curious that, for example, Haenam county (population 83,020), Damyang county (51,022), and Jangseong county (48,072) did so well. All three are rural; affluent Gangnam-gu in Seoul, a "hub" of education so to speak, is one-eleventh the size of Damyang county, but has ten times the population. Parts of Damyang and Jangseong can, however, be considered almost like outlying suburbs of Gwangju because of those who make the short commute every day.
* Update: And, worth pointing out that there are well-respected specialized schools in Damyang and Jangseong that siphon off some of the best students from the area, thereby inflating those performance numbers. It's the same phenomenon that happens all throughout the country, as students from rural areas collect in the urban centers.