ICCS builds on previous IEA studies of civic education and is a response to the challenge of educating young people in changing contexts of democracy and civic participation.

The first IEA study of civic education was conducted as part of the Six Subject Study, with data collected in 1971. The second study, the IEA Civic Education Study (CIVED), was carried out in 1999; an additional survey, of upper-secondary students, took place in 2000. CIVED was designed to strengthen the empirical foundations of civic education by providing information about the civic knowledge, attitudes, social and political engagement, and actions of 14-year-olds and upper-secondary school students. Both studies were explicit recognitions that foundational skills are important, yet that these alone are not sufficient for prospering in today’s global society, and in a world that requires an open and more culture-oriented approach, a moral orientation emphasizing human rights, and a focus on social justice and political change.


In recognition of the need for continuing research on civic and citizenship education, ICCS was established in 2009 as a baseline study for future assessments in this area, with 38 countries participating from around the world. The second cycle of ICCS, the 2016 study was built on the data gathered in ICCS 2009. A central aim was to monitor changes in students’ civic knowledge and engagement over time by linking the second survey cycle directly to ICCS 2009, allowing the countries that participate in both cycles to monitor trends in civic knowledge and engagement over seven years.