There are wide inequalities within schools in the USA. There are differences in exam results and experiences between pupils in private and public schools. The quality of education pupils receive in public schools can be very different from one school to another.

A school’s population reflects its catchment area and the economic status of those who live there. Students from schools in rich areas where parents are well educated and have the skills and resources to motivate their children, tend to achieve better exam results. Statistics show that white Americans and Asians consistently outperform Hispanics and African Americans in terms of educational attainment.

Traditionally, minority groups live in poorer areas. This can lead to the following disadvantages:

  • Schools in poorer areas have trouble attracting and retaining suitably qualified teachers, resulting in classes going untaught
  • Pupils have less chance of gaining the grades to secure entry to university
  • Language can be a barrier. Some Hispanic children may have more difficulty with English. Parents who do not speak English may be less able to communicate with teachers and help with homework
  • They are less likely to gain other valuable life skills in extracurricular activities such as sports and competitions. This reduces their chances to impress employers
  • In poor neighbourhoods there are often strong peer group pressures to join gangs and drop out of school
  • In areas of low employment, there will be fewer role models who have been successful at gaining jobs. There may be more negative role models who are involved in crime

Often schools with the best results get the most funding. This can increase educational inequality. Poorer schools with poorer results may have a shortage of resources for equipment such as computers. They may have to spend their budget on non-educational costs such as repairing school buildings.

More disruptive and disaffected students making it harder for education to take place.

In late 2015 President Obama signed the Every School Succeeds Act. This new law shifts the responsibility of improving schools and exam performance from the federal government to individual states.