Basic education, access to knowledge and educational success are matters of great interest in the field of employment policy. It is well-known that from the early years of school, socioeconomic and cultural status of families plays a key role as explanatory variable of student performances. To define local educational policies, it is important to have accurate information not only on educational outcomes but also on characteristics of family contexts. In this paper we present a methodological proposal for calculating a statistical indicator of the social and cultural family background. In particular, we analyze the data coming from a survey carried out by the "Osservatorio sulla scolarità della Provincia di Bologna" on student outcomes in upper secondary school. The results show the existence of a link between family background and scholastic attainment. Even in a situation of high school attendance, such as in Bologna, school does not seem to be able of neutralizing the effect of unfavourable family environment conditions on student scholastic performances.
Keywords: Educational policies, socioeconomic and cultural status, scholastic attainment, inequality