Learn about the next cycle! Assess students' civic-related knowledge, attitudes, and engagement in an international context.
International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2009
The International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) 2009 was the third IEA study (after projects conducted in 1971 and 1999) on civic and citizenship education.
ICCS 2009 reported on student achievement in a test of knowledge and conceptual understanding, as well as student dispositions and attitudes relating to civics and citizenship. For countries that participated in the 1999 data collection (14-year-olds), the study also measured overtime changes in civic content knowledge.
Teacher and school questionnaires gathered information about the contexts in which students learn about civics and citizenship, including teaching and classroom management practices, and school governance and climate. A national context survey collected information about the provision of civic and citizenship education in each participating country. Three regional modules for countries in Asia, Europe, and Latin America addressed issues of civic and citizenship education of special interest in these parts of the world. The main data collection was conducted in 2008–2009.
ICCS 2009 assessed students enrolled in the eighth grade (provided that the mean age at the time of testing was at least 13.5 years). In order to enable a link to CIVED, participating countries which tested a different grade in 1999 assessed the same grade in addition to the internationally defined target grade.
Participating education systems
Austria, Belgium (Flemish), Bulgaria, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, England, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Poland, Russian Federation, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Thailand.
Provision of civic and citizenship education
There were different approaches to civic and citizenship education in the participating countries, with 20 countries including it as a specific subject in the curriculum. Very few students attended schools where principals reported no provision for civic and citizenship education.
Civic and citizenship education covered knowledge and understanding of political institutions and concepts, such as human rights, as well as social and community cohesion, diversity, the environment, communications, and global society. Most teachers regarded the development of knowledge and skills as the most important aim of civic and citizenship education, while the development of active participation was not among the most frequently cited objectives.
There was considerable variation across countries in the extent of students' civic knowledge, as well as a wide range between the highest and lowest achieving students within countries. The four top-performing countries were Finland, Denmark, Korea and Chinese Taipei.
Among the 15 countries for which overtime comparisons of civic content knowledge scores were possible, results suggest a significant decline in half of those countries since 1999, and a significant increase in one country (Slovenia).
Girls had significantly higher civic knowledge scores than boys in most of the participating countries.
Student attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors
The majority of students endorsed democratic values, gender equality, and equal rights for ethnic or racial groups and immigrants, though this varied across countries. About 75% of students reported a lot of trust in schools and 60% of students expressed trust in their national governments, the media, and people in general. Political parties were typically the least trusted institution, and about half the students did not express any preference for a particular political party.
Students generally had greater interest in domestic political and social issues than foreign issues and international politics. About 80% of students intended to vote in national elections, but fewer expected to become politically active as adults (e.g., by joining a political party or running for office). Civic participation at school was relatively widespread but focused on sports events and cultural activities. Active civic participation in the community was not very common.
The majority of students across countries reported acceptance of measures with the potential to infringe civil liberties, such as restricting media coverage (78% of students) or increasing the power of security agencies to hold suspects in jail for relatively lengthy periods (56% of students), during times of perceived threats to national security.
Influences on outcomes of civic and citizenship education
The perceptions that students held of openness during classroom discussions of political and social issues had a positive relationship with civic knowledge. Parental occupational status and parental interest in social and political issues were also positively associated with civic knowledge.
Although civic knowledge and civic engagement at school were both positively associated with students' intentions to vote, this was not the case for students' expectations to engage in more active political behavior, such as working in political organizations or on political campaigns. However, past or current participation in activities in the wider community was a positive predictor of expected active participation.
Trust in civic institutions and preferences for a political party tended to be positively associated with students' intentions to participate in electoral and more active forms of political participation in the future.
Findings of the regional modules
The Asian ICCS countries placed similar emphases on self-cultivation and moral development in their approaches to civic education. The majority of students considered morality a critical aspect of good citizenship and political leadership, and showed a strong sense of Asian identity. Some differences across the region were also evident, for example in students' attitudes toward authoritarian government. Students with higher civic knowledge scores reported less acceptance of authoritarian government practices and corruption in public service.
Among the countries participating in the European regional module, the majority of students demonstrated a sense of European identity and support for increased European harmonization of policies. They also expressed positive attitudes toward intercultural relations, support for equal rights for ethnic or racial groups and immigrants, and strong support for the right of European citizens to move freely within Europe, though there were also differences across countries.
Among the Latin American ICCS participants, countries with higher scores on the Human Development Index were also those whose students had higher levels of civic knowledge. More knowledgeable students presented less acceptance of authoritarian government, corruption in government, and justifications for disobeying the law, among other characteristics and attitudes.
For more information, please contact the ICCS International Study Centre.
Ainley, J., Schulz, W., & Friedman, T. (Eds.). (2013). ICCS 2009 encyclopedia: Approaches to civic and citizenship education around the world. Amsterdam: IEA.
Brese, F., Jung, M., Mirazchiyski, P., Schulz, W., & Zuehlke, O. (2011). ICCS 2009 user guide for the international database. Amsterdam: IEA.
Fraillon, J., Schulz, W., & Ainley, J. (2012). ICCS 2009 Asian report: Civic knowledge and attitudes among lower-secondary students in five Asian countries. Amsterdam: IEA.
Kerr, D., Sturman, L., Schulz, W., & Burge, B. (2010). ICCS 2009 European report: Civic knowledge, attitudes, and engagement among lower-secondary students in 24 European countries. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., & Fraillon, J. (Eds.). (2011). ICCS 2009 technical report. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Kerr, D., & Losito, B. (2010). ICCS 2009 international report: Civic knowledge, attitudes, and engagement among lower-secondary school students in 38 countries. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Kerr, D., & Losito, B. (2010). Initial findings from the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Kerr, D., & Losito, B. (2010). Prvotní zjištění z Mezinárodní studie občanské výchovy [Initial findings from the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study]. Prague: ÚIV.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Fraillon, J., Kerr, D., & Losito, B. (2010). Resultados iniciales del Estudio Internacional de Educación Cívica y Ciudadana de la IEA [Initial findings from the IEA International Civic and Citizenship Education Study]. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Friedman, T., & Lietz, P. (2011). ICCS 2009 Latin American report: Civic knowledge and attitudes among lower-secondary students in six Latin American countries. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Ainley, J., Friedman, T., & Lietz, P. (2011). Informe Latinoamericano del ICCS 2009: Actitudes y conocimientos cívicos de estudiantes de secundaria en seis países de América Latina [ICCS 2009 Latin American report: Civic knowledge and attitudes among lower-secondary students in six Latin American countries]. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Fraillon, J., Ainley, J., Losito, B., & Kerr, D. (2008). International Civic and Citizenship Education Study: Assessment framework. Amsterdam: IEA.
Schulz, W., Fraillon, J., Ainley, J., Losito, B., & Kerr, D. (2010). Estudio internacional sobre educación cívica y ciudadana: Marco de la evaluación [International Civic and Citizenship Education Study: Assessment framework]. Madrid: Instituto de Evaluación.
Schulz, W., Fraillon, J., Ainley, J., Losito, B., & Kerr, D. (2010). Indagine Internazionale sull'Educazione Civica e alla Cittadinanza: Quadro di riferimento [International Civic and Citizenship Education Study: Assessment framework]. Frascati, Italy: INVALSI.
For information about national reports and other analyses resulting from ICCS 2009, please visit National Study Reports.