Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Anne J. Hacker


A problem recognized in the United States is that a K-12 public education in urban communities is more likely to support existing patterns of inequality than to serve as a pathway to opportunity. The specific focus of this research was on the poor academic performance in U.S K-12 urban communities. Using Benet's polarities of democracy theory as the foundation, the purpose of this correlational study was to determine which independent variables, enrollment rates, high school graduation rates, property tax funding rates for schools, teacher quality, and youth literacy rates are statistically associated with quality education outcomes by using the polarities of democracy participation and representation tenets as proxy variables. Secondary data spanning a 5-year aggregate period, 2010-2015, was compared for both Massachusetts and the United States, using Germany as the benchmark. Data were acquired from the Programme for International Student Assessment from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The total sample included 150 cases randomly selected from 240 schools in Massachusetts and 150 schools in Germany. Data were analyzed using ANOVA. The results of this study indicate a statistically significant (p < .001) pairwise association between each of the 5 independent variables and the dependent variable. The 5 independent variables had a positive statistically significant effect on education quality. The implication for social change from this study includes insight and recommendations to the U.S Department of Education into best practices for reducing educational inequality and improving educational quality as measured by achievement in the United States.