ICCS 2016 Results

Achievement scales


Background scales


Overview of key study results

Provision of civic and citizenship education

  • 11 of the participating countries taught civic and citizenship education as a distinct subject.
  • Integration of civic and citizenship education into all subjects in school was a common practice in 18 of the participating countries.
  • The most important aims with respect to civic and citizenship education as considered by school principals were:
    • Promoting students’ critical and independent thinking
    • Promoting students’ knowledge of citizens’ rights and responsibilities
    • Developing students’ skills and competencies in conflict resolution
  • The most important aims as considered by teachers were:
    • Promoting students’ independent and critical thinking
    • Promoting students’ knowledge of citizens’ rights and responsibilities
    • Promoting respect for and safeguard of the environment
  • Every country reported that civic and citizenship education was provided as part of teacher training for teachers of subjects related to civic and citizenship education, either at the pre-service level, the in-service level, or both.


Students’ civic knowledge

  • Levels of student knowledge and percentages of students achieving each level:
    • Level A (demonstrating a holistic knowledge and understanding of civic and citizenship concepts and some degree of critical perspective): 35% of students
    • Level B (demonstrating some specific knowledge and understanding of the most pervasive civic and citizenship institutions, systems, and concepts): 32% of students
    • Level C (engaging with the fundamental principles and broad concepts that underpin civics and citizenship): 21% of students
    • Level D (demonstrating familiarity with concrete, explicit content and examples relating to the basic features of democracy): 10% of students
    • Below Level D: 3% of students
  • Trends (2009–2016): Students’ average civic knowledge scores increased.
    • Across the 18 countries that met the necessary technical requirements of both ICCS 2009 and ICCS 2016, the proportion of students at Level B and above on the civic knowledge scale increased from 61 to 67 percent.
    • In 11 of these 18 countries, the increase in average student civic knowledge was statistically significant.
  • The level of civic knowledge varied more within countries than across countries.
  • Female students demonstrated higher civic knowledge than male students.
  • Students in the high socio-economic status group had significantly higher civic knowledge scores than those in the lower socio-economic status group in all countries.
  • In 14 countries, students who came from an immigrant background had statistically significantly lower civic knowledge scores than other students.
  • In 17 countries, students who said they mainly spoke the language of the ICCS test at home had higher civic knowledge scale scores than those who reported speaking another language at home.


Students’ civic engagement

  • Student willingness to participate at school was highest among female students and among students who expressed higher levels of interest in social and political issues.
  • No associations between participation in legal protest activities and civic knowledge were found, but students who expected to participate in illegal protest activities tended to have lower levels of civic knowledge.
  • Expected active participation in conventional political activities was higher among students who said they were interested in civic-related issues, but lower among students with higher levels of civic knowledge.
  • Trends (2009–2016)
    • Students’ use of newspapers declined.
    • Students’ use of television as a source of national and international news declined in half of the participating countries.
    • Students reported talking more frequently with their parents about what happens in other countries.
    • Students’ use of new social media for civic engagement remained limited and varied considerably across participating countries.
    • Students’ engagement in discussions about political and social issues and their confidence about participating in civic activities were stronger in ICCS 2016.
    • In a number of countries, student participation in voluntary activities and expectations of participating in elections have increased.


Students’ attitudes toward important issues in society

  • Differences were found in what students perceived as good or bad for democracy; students, for example, did not consistently agree that issues such as the right to criticize the government or the existence of smaller differences in income are positive for democracies.
  • The results showed high levels of student endorsement of personally responsible citizenship behavior.
  • Obeying the law, ensuring the economic welfare of families, and respecting the opinions of others were regarded as very important for good adult citizenship.
  • Students strongly endorsed gender equality and equal rights for ethnic and racial groups in their countries.
  • Female students, students with higher levels of interest in political and social issues, and students with higher levels of civic knowledge were the students most likely to endorse gender equality and equal rights for all ethnic and racial groups.
  • A majority of students viewed pollution, terrorism, water and food shortages, infectious diseases, and poverty as major threats to the world’s future.
  • In more established and economically stable democracies, the more knowledgeable students tended to place more trust in civic institutions.
  • Students in countries with perceived higher levels of corruption and low government efficiency generally expressed lower levels of trust.
  • Trends (2009–2016)
    • Students tended to attach somewhat more importance to conventional citizenship behaviors.
    • In many countries, the ICCS 2016 students expressed greater trust in government, parliament, and courts of justice, but less trust in the public media and in people in general than did the ICCS 2009 students.
    • Students’ endorsement of religious influence in society remained limited.


School contexts for civic and citizenship education

  • Most students participated in classroom and school elections.
  • Students were positive about classroom climates that they saw as open to discussions.
  • Verbal bullying had occurred in most of the participating countries, but principals and teachers had adopted initiatives to counter this and other forms of bullying at school.
  • Schools interacted with local communities when developing civics-related activities and also developed activities related to environmental sustainability.
  • Countries differed with respect to implementation of civic learning processes and activities at school and teacher preparedness for teaching civics-related topics.


Explaining variation in students’ civic knowledge and expected engagement

  • Student-related characteristics and social background emerged as important predictors of students’ civic knowledge.
  • Parental and student interest were the strongest student-background predictors of expected civic engagement.
  • Female students were less inclined than male students to foresee active political involvement in the future.
  • Students’ experience with civic engagement in the community or at school tended to be positively associated with their expected civic engagement as adults.
  • Students’ civic knowledge and self-efficacy as well as students’ beliefs were consistent predictors of expected electoral and active political participation.
  • More knowledgeable students were more likely than their less knowledgeable peers to anticipate participation in elections, but were less likely to anticipate active political involvement.
  • Students who believed in the importance of civic engagement through established channels were also more likely to anticipate future civic participation.
  • In most countries, trust in civic institutions was positively associated with students’ expectations of electoral and active political participation.