This article focuses on two questions relating to social class inequalities in education: cross-national differences and the contribution of material, cultural and school factors in accounting for the relationship. These questions are addressed using the EGP measure of occupational class and student performance in reading literacy in 30 countries. The pattern of cross-national differences is more closely associated with indicators of modernisation and the organisation of the school system, rather than indicators of overall societal inequality and economic development. Both material and cultural factors contribute to the relationship between class background and student achievement with cultural factors marginally more important overall. In countries with highly tracked school systems, schools mediate the relationship in that children from lower class backgrounds are more likely to attend lower performing schools. However, the inverse is not true: school differences in student performance are only partially accounted for by class background and other socioeconomic factors.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/gary_marks/40/