The cause of educational disparities come from several factors. Research consistently points to two main contributors:  disparities in family socioeconomic background and  residential segregation.


High-poverty schools typically have fewer resources, poorer facilities, a harder time attracting and retaining skilled teachers, and more students in need of remediation and additional services. In addition, highpoverty schools typically have fewer students whose parents have economic, social, and political resources to invest in schools. As a result, segregation is strongly correlated with academic achievement gaps, even after accounting for racial and ethnic differences in socioeconomic family characteristics. Indeed, metropolitan-area achievement gaps are more strongly correlated with segregation than they are with racial and ethnic disparities in socioeconomic status.

On an intra-state basis, many of the states with the widest disparities in educational expenditures are large industrial states. In these states, many minorities and economically disadvantaged students are located in property-poor urban districts which fare the worst in educational expenditures or in rural districts which suffer from fiscal inequity.

Even within urban school districts, schools with high concentrations of low-income and minority students receive fewer instructional resources than others. In combination, these policies leave minority students with fewer and lower-quality books, curriculum materials, laboratories, and computers; significantly larger class sizes; less qualified and experienced teachers; and less access to high-quality curriculum. Many schools serving low-income and minority students do not even offer the math and science courses needed for college, and they provide lower-quality teaching in the classes they do offer.