Figures from MORI show that only 79 per cent cent of black families were satisfied with their local primary school, compared with 87 per cent of whites and Asians.
A quarter of African and Caribbean people were unhappy with secondary schools, compared with 16 per cent of whites and 18 per cent of Asians.
However, 73 per cent said they were fairly, or very likely to go into higher education. For whites the figure was 69 per cent while for Asians it was 78 per cent.
The findings, from MORI's research director, Bobby Duffy, suggest that some communities are being failed by the education system, with personal experience of education not matching individual aspirations.
The study, unveiled at a London conference on ethnic-minority achievement, also found that more black pupils than white liked the idea of going to university. And many more - 67 per cent of blacks compared with 49 per cent of whites - were being encouraged into higher education by their families, with mothers being the most influential.
The conference, called Tackling Underachievement and Educating for Employment, also heard that teachers need better training to raise attainment among some ethnic groups.
The Commission for Racial Equality said initial teacher training should provide courses on different cultural identities and how to handle conflict arising from race issues in the classroom.
Delegates heard that there continued to be wide variation in the levels of attainment between different minority groups.
Figures for 2002 show that while 51 per cent of white pupils achieve five or more top-grade GCSEs, 73 per cent of Chinese and 64 per cent of Indian pupils reach this level.
However, just 30 per cent of black Caribbean, 40 per cent of black African and Pakistani and 45 per cent of Bangladeshi youngsters achieve similar scores.
Meanwhile, gipsy and traveller children have poor attendance rates and by key stage 3 only about a fifth are registered or regularly attend school.