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.
Regional Results - European

Students’ perceptions of their being European

  • Majorities of surveyed students stated that they saw themselves as Europeans, were proud to live in Europe, and felt they were part of Europe
  • Trends (2009–2016): students indicate a strong sense of European identity and belonging
  • Increases in students’ positive perceptions of their European identity were observed
  • A stronger sense of European identity among male students than among female students was recorded
  • Majorities of students from an immigrant family held a weaker sense of European identity than did students from a non-immigrant family
  • Positive associations were observed between students’ sense of European identity and students’ level of trust in civic institutions


Students’ opportunities to learn about Europe at school

  • Majorities of students said they had opportunities to learn about Europe at school
  • 83% of the surveyed students reported that they had opportunities to learn European history at their schools
  • Opportunities to learn about European political and economic systems, European political and social, and political and economic integration between European countries varied to a greater extent across the participating countries


Students’ attitudes toward freedom of movement within Europe and toward equal rights for immigrants in Europe

  • Most of the surveyed students endorsed freedom of movement for European citizens within Europe
  • Considerable variation across countries for statements endorsing restricting European citizens’ freedom of movement were observed
  • Lower-secondary students with a higher level of civic knowledge (Level B or above) were more in favor of freedom of movement than those students with a lower level of civic knowledge (below Level B)
  • Male students were more in favor of freedom of movement than those students with a lower level of civic knowledge
  • Trends (2009–2016):
    • Majorities of students agreed with statements endorsing immigrants’ rights, however, this differed across the European ICCS 2016 countries
    • Most countries recorded no strong difference between their ICCS 2009 students’ and their ICCS 2016 students’ attitudes toward equal rights for immigrants
    • Female students held more positive attitudes toward immigrants’ rights than male students
    • Students’ endorsement of equal rights for immigrants was positively associated with higher levels of civic knowledge (at or above Level B)
    • In most countries, students from immigrant families expressed more positive attitudes than the other students did toward immigrant rights


Students’ perceptions of Europe and the future of Europe

  • Students favored cooperation among European countries in order to ensure high levels of employment, strengthen countries’ economies, prevent and combat terrorism, and protect the environment
  • Students’ support for cooperation among European countries was positively associated with higher levels of civic knowledge
  • Majorities of students expressed positive expectations with respect to Europe’s future
  • Students believed that cooperation among European countries would increase and that peace and democracy across Europe were likely to strengthen.
  • Students regarded terrorism and the influence of non-European powers as the most problematic issues.
  • Most students held positive views of the EU and tended to endorse statements about the importance of the EU in guaranteeing respect for human rights, safety in Europe, protecting the environment, strengthening the economy, and sharing a set of common rules and laws
  • Most of the surveyed students also expressed trust in the European Commission and the European Parliament
  • Students’ expectations of voting in European elections in the future varied substantially across participating countries
  • Majorities of students were positive about their own individual future.
  • The extent to which students thought their financial situation would be better than that of their parents varied across countries.


Regional Results - Latin-American

Contexts for civic and citizenship education

  • The five Latin American ICCS 2016 differ in terms of population size, economic strength, and human development.
  • They differ in their political contexts, especially with regard to voter turnout, female representation in parliament, and support for democracy.
  • Considerable differences across the countries in regard to Grade 8 students’ civic knowledge and Grade 6 students’ reading abilities were noted.
  • All five countries differ in the extent to how they have implemented this learning area in their national curricula.
  • Civic and citizenship education in the ICCS 2016 Latin American countries is also strongly influenced by the recent historical and political background of each country


Students’ perceptions of public institutions and government

  • Two thirds of students in the participating countries agreed upholding law and order or providing economic benefits justify dictatorships.
  • Students enrolled at urban schools, students who expected to undertake university education, and students with higher levels of civic knowledge were less likely to endorse corrupt practices.
  • The lower-secondary students surveyed expressed high levels of trust in the institution of schools but low levels of trust in political institutions.
  • Students with higher levels of civic knowledge were less inclined than their peers to trust political parties or the national government.
  • Students with higher levels of civic knowledge were more inclined to trust schools or the armed forces.
  • Trend (2009 – 2016):  
    • Both Chile and Colombia recorded declines in students’ levels of trust in institutions such as the government and political parties.
    • Chile was the only one where student support for authoritarian rule and dictatorial rule decreased over time.
    • Student support for corrupt practices declined in Chile but increased slightly in Colombia and Mexico.


Students’ views on peaceful coexistence

  • Majorities of students supported using violent means outside the law to punish criminals
  • Most students accepted some justifications for breaking the law, such as finding it the only way to help one’s family or not doing it with bad intentions
  • Students in Chile and Colombia were least inclined to agree with justifications for disobedience to the law
  • Trend (2009 – 2016): 
    • Students’ acceptance of using violence decreased
    • The lowest levels of endorsement were found among females, students who expected to attain a university degree, and students with higher levels of civic knowledge
    • Civic knowledge was negatively associated with endorsement of justifying disobedience of the law
    • Female gender and expectations to complete a university degree were negatively associated with endorsement of justifying disobedience of the law
    • When presented with hypothetical situations in which peers at school found themselves in difficult situations, most students showed concern for those schoolmates.
    • Female students and students with higher levels of civic knowledge were more likely to express empathy for their classmates.


Students’ perceptions of social cohesion and diversity

  • Large majorities of students expressed acceptance of neighbors from different social minority groups.
  •  However, notable differences were apparent in the proportions of students who said they would not be bothered by neighborhood diversity.
  • Female students, students at schools in urban areas, and students with higher levels of civic knowledge were the students most likely to accept members of minority groups living next door.
  • Students showed positive attitudes toward people with a homosexual orientation
  • Students generally thought groups least discriminated against were young people, unemployed persons, and older people.
  • High percentages of students perceived relatively high levels of discrimination against homosexual people
  • Trend (2009 – 2016):
    • Chile, Colombia, and Mexico all recorded higher levels of agreement with same-sex marriage than they did in ICCS 2009.
    • Students in the Dominican Republic and Peru expressing somewhat less positive attitudes.
    • Support for equal opportunities and rights for homosexual people were more prevalent among the female students, those students studying at schools in urban areas, and students with higher levels of civic knowledge.