What do New Zealand students understand about civic knowledge and citizenship?

Publication Details

This is the first of a series of publications based on the results of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS). This report focuses on New Zealand Year 9 students' achievement in civic knowledge in comparison with their peers from other countries.

Author(s): Kate Lang, Research, Ministry of Education.

Date Published: November 2010

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Section 1: Summary

This report focuses on New Zealand Year 9 students’ achievement in civic knowledge in comparison with their peers from other countries.

In this context, civic knowledge includes a wide range of topics from political institutions and concepts, such as human rights, through to topics covering social and community cohesion, diversity, the environment, communications and global society. It is embedded in the New Zealand Curriculum.

The study shows that New Zealand students are generally well prepared for their roles as citizens in the 21st Century compared with many other countries that took part. New Zealand students’ mean civic knowledge score was 517 compared to the international ICCS average of 500 points.

New Zealand students were on a par with countries like England, Norway, Spain, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic. Students in 10 countries including Finland, Denmark, the Republic of Korea and Chinese Taipei outperformed our students. New Zealand’s performance was only average compared with other participating OECD countries.

New Zealand had a bigger gap in ICCS civic knowledge scores between high and low achievers compared with other countries in the study. This wide spread of achievement is similar to other international studies in which we take part.

Girls tended to have higher civic knowledge scores than boys in all countries participating in this study. In New Zealand the average difference was 31 score points in favour of girls.

Students identifying with European or Asian ethnic groups generally did better in civic knowledge than Māori or Pasifika students.

Other factors related to higher achievement in civic knowledge in this study included higher levels of parental education and occupation, more books in the home, speaking the test language (English) at home and a non-immigrant background.