Among OECD countries, large differences prevail in the level of students' civic education. Social inequality in civic education also varies significantly across national contexts – as shown by data from the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS) from 2016. Can these inter-state differences be explained by the different conditions of the respective education systems? In her new PRIF Working Paper, "Students' Civic Knowledge Achievement – A Cross-National Comparative Analysis", Raphaela Schlicht-Schmälzle identifies education system conditions that display a correlation with students' political knowledge acquisition.
The study provides evidence that, first, a post-graduate degree for teachers, second, horizontal curriculum integration of civic issues rather than isolation in politics classes only, and third, a macro-societal culture of classroom debate have a positive impact on civic education in schools. A performance-based secondary education system, on the other hand, proves to be a constraint. Moreover, certain education system conditions affect students from diverse social backgrounds differently and thus have the potential to either reduce or even increase social inequality. The results can inform policymakers about potential means to make civic education more effective and accessible for all students.