The IEA Civic Education Project: National and International Perspectives


Carole L. Hahn and Judith Torney-Purta

In the past decade, there has been a remarkable burst of interest in how young people are educated for citizenship. The discussion has involved not only educators, but also political scientists and public policymakers. How the young learn about democracy, politics, and citizenship has been the subject of national commissions in Australia and England, as well as a topic of debate in the “transitional democracies” of Central and Eastern Europe.

It is timely that the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is conducting a major multinational study of civic education.1 The process began in 1993 when the IEA General Assembly, composed of delegates from 55 member countries, decided to explore the idea of this study.2 At the beginning, it was not anticipated that many countries would show interest and be able to afford the within-nation costs. Ultimately, however, more than 30 countries participated in the Civic Education Study.3

The Civic Education Study is unique for IEA in having two distinct, but related, phases. Phase 1, which took four years to complete, used qualitative methods (interviews with experts, analysis of textbooks and other documents, and focus groups) to study what students are expected to learn about their nation and citizenship. The first volume of Phase 1 findings, Civic Education Across Countries; Twenty-four National Case Studies from the IEA Civic Education Project, was published this year.4 Although it is impossible to briefly summarize this volume, a few conclusions are of particular interest.

First, there is a common core of content topics in civic education across countries. Second, almost all of the authors of the 24 case study chapters express the belief that “civic education should be cross-disciplinary, participatory, interactive, related to life, conducted in a non-authoritarian environment, cognizant of the challenges of societal diversity, and co-constructed by schools, parents, and the community.”5 Third, there is a widely perceived gap between the goals for democracy expressed in the curriculum and the reality presented by societies and their schools. Also, there is a discrepancy when long lists of factual knowledge are to be conveyed in only an hour or two of study a week. Fourth, everywhere diversity (socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and linguistic) is a matter of concern; yet, there is not much sense of the best direction to take in formulating programs.

Phase 2 of the IEA Civic Education Study involved a large scale survey of 14-year-olds in nearly 30 countries.6 Instruments were administered to nationally representative student samples in from 150 to 200 schools per country. Based on the analysis of Phase 1 material and the decisions of National Expert Panels in the participating countries, three domains were chosen for the development of items for Phase 2. The domains are (1) democracy, political institutions, and citizenship, (2) national identity, regional, and international relationships, and (3) social cohesion and diversity.

The student outcome measures for Phase 2 included a test of cognitive knowledge and skills; measures of students’ conceptions of democracy and citizenship; and attitudinal measures related to trust in institutions, political interest and action, and opportunity structures for ethnic groups and women. Additional items related to student perceptions of the classroom climate, their efficacy at school, and their organizational participation. There were also teacher and school questionnaires. Test development took nearly two years and included extensive pilot testing, checking of psychometric statistics, and review by the participating countries. More than 120,000 students responded to tests and surveys, along with teachers and principals of their schools. A comparative report of the results will be released in early 2001, and the data will be made available to educational researchers in 2002.

The remainder of this article presents information obtained for the Phase 1 case study of the United States, and draws on comparisons with published case study findings from other countries.7

Civic Education in the United States

In the United States, more than in most countries, a central mission of public schools is to prepare young people for the role of citizen. Furthermore, the subject of social studies carries a particular responsibility for citizenship education. For that reason, the case study of civic education in the United States focused on social studies curriculum and instruction. Complementary attention was given to the influence of the school as a whole and to out-of-school experiences.

The questions originally posed by the Phase 1 case studies involved what 14- 15-year-olds are expected or likely to learn in three domains: (1) democracy, political institutions, and rights and responsibilities of citizens, including messages in the hidden, as well as the overt, curriculum; (2) national identity, including treatment of heroes and core documents; and (3) social diversity and cohesion, including attention to what students learn about discrimination?8


Research Methods

To develop the case study, data were collected from multiple sources: a survey of the 50 states, a content analysis of textbooks, focus group interviews of students aged 14-15 and social studies teachers at the 8th and 9th grade levels, and interviews with experts in the particular domains being investigated.9 Additionally, we drew on a survey of literature prepared for the project as well as the insights of members of the National Expert Panel.10

Unlike the situation in some countries participating in the IEA study, there is considerable variety in curricular policies among the 50 states and over 15,000 school districts in the United States.11 For this reason we sent surveys to the 50 state social studies specialists or their equivalents12 We received responses from individuals in 48 states. The questionnaire asked about statewide policies that might influence civic education, such as course requirements for high school graduation, textbook adoption policies, and competency testing. Also, we asked the respondents to estimate whether a majority of school districts in their states taught particular courses (and at what grade levels from 6 to 12) and to list organizations active in civic education in their states.

For the textbook analysis, it was a challenge to identify the most widely used books. In the United States, there are no official textbooks (as there are, for example, in Cyprus and Greece), no lists of centrally approved textbooks (as exist, for example, in the Czech Republic), and no agency that keeps track of numbers of textbooks sold. To identify widely used textbooks for grades 7-9 civics and United States history, information was triangulated from several sources.13 This was followed by a content analysis of the textbooks using a rubric that focused on the domains of interest in the IEA study.14

We conducted four focus groups with 8th-9th grade students in Georgia and Texas, and three focus groups with middle and high school teachers in the metropolitan areas of Atlanta, Seattle, and Minneapolis. We deliberately included in our groups students and teachers from both urban and suburban schools, and from schools with differing racial and ethnic compositions. It should be emphasized that the purpose of these focus groups was not to develop generalizations about a wider population. Rather, we were trying to identify a range of meanings, experiences, and perceptions that may exist related to civic education, and to develop plausible hypotheses that could be tested with nationally representative samples of schools and students in Phase 2 of the IEA Study.

Finally, we conducted interviews with several individual experts who are nationally known for their writing on citizenship education, history education, and economics education. We also interviewed a state social studies specialist and coordinators of state networks in law-related and economics education.

Drawing on these varied data sources, a case study of civic education in the United States was developed.15 Selections from the U.S. case study are reported here, along with comparisons drawn from other case studies of countries that participated in the Phase 1 study.16


Domain I: Democracy, Political Institutions, and Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens

In the United States, children begin to learn about democracy and political life in elementary school. However, because the IEA project focused on 14-year-olds, we collected data only on the experiences of students in the sixth grade and above.



In the state survey, we asked the social studies specialists if there was a statewide requirement that U.S. government/ civics/citizenship be taught in grades 6-12. Respondents from 36 states said their state had such a requirement and several others said schools were required to teach the U.S. Constitution. In addition to state requirements, school districts often mandated a course in civics or government, or it was simply a tradition that most students took such a course.

Further, we asked the state social studies specialists if they thought that the majority of the districts in their state offered particular courses whether or not they were required. Respondents from 45 states estimated that the majority of school districts in their state taught U.S. government or civics sometime between grades 6 and 12. A few mentioned courses in law or state and local government. Only ten respondents thought that most districts in their state taught civics or government in the 8th grade, most mentioning grade 9 or 12.

Although it is difficult to obtain firm data , it appeared from our survey that by the beginning of 9th grade (when students in the United States took the international test for Phase 2), only a minority of students would have completed a course in civics or government. Rather, most students probably learned about democracy, political institutions, and rights and responsibilities of citizens in courses in U.S. history. Indeed, respondents from 32 states said that the majority of districts in their state taught U.S. history in the 8th grade. Information from other studies indicating that most students take a course in government after age 14 complements this picture.17

Although it appears that a majority of students in the United States will not have had a specific course about government institutions and the rights and responsibilities of citizens before they are 14 years old, that is not unusual from an international perspective. For example, students in countries such as Australia, England, and Portugal do not take specific courses in civics or government. Rather, this domain is addressed indirectly through all subjects (referred to as a “cross curricular theme”) and the general ethos of the school. In Italy, Finland, and some other countries, civics is taught in conjunction with history and/or social studies (which is taught as a subject separate from history and geography). In some countries, 14-year-olds are likely to have had explicit instruction about democracy, political institutions, and citizenship in a subject that meets for only one or two hours each week (eg. Germany, Israel, Romania, and Russia).



In the United States, students who take a course in civics or U.S. history in grades 7-9 are apparently exposed to similar content and sequencing of topics. To the extent that textbooks are indicative of what is actually taught in the classes where they are used, our analysis indicates that different books present almost identical messages.18

The three widely-used civics textbooks examined emphasize the structure and function of national, state, and local governments. All three books begin with a discussion of representative democracy and introduce the U. S. Constitution as the foundation for government. They then move through the three branches of government in the same order: legislative, executive, and judicial.

The U.S. history books describe the development of democracy from English antecedents through colonization, to the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, to the present. The history texts, like the civics texts, all define federalism and describe the three branches of government. Individual rights play a prominent role; general references to citizens’ responsibilities are much less frequent. To ascertain whether the messages in the textbooks are actually those that are conveyed to students, we asked teachers in our focus groups what they taught and students what they learned.


When asked what “democracy” meant to them, students in the focus groups spoke about representative democracy and “electing people to represent us.” No students referred to parliamentary democracy, although several teachers reported presenting such alternatives to the American form of democracy. Students in the focus groups reported that in their classes they learned about the branches and levels of government and about the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Several stated they learned about “checks and balances,” and some of the history behind the Constitution, such as the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence.

Teachers also cited those topics and said they sometimes taught about political institutions and processes in the context of discussing current events, particularly at the time of elections. Several of the teachers said their students had considerable interest in citizens’ rights. That led one teacher to spend more time on rights than on other topics; it led another to talk about responsibilities that were associated with the Bill of Rights. An emphasis on citizens’ rights that we heard in our focus groups and found in the textbooks has been identified in other studies.19

Taken together, data from the textbook analysis and focus groups suggested several hypotheses to be tested in Phase 2. When students have courses in U.S. history and civics, seemingly the topics differ very little from one classroom to the next. Moreover, most content in this domain appears to be presented as uncontested. For example, teachers seem to draw students’ attention more to vocabulary and facts than to controversial historical or contemporary issues. Although much of the professional literature in social studies in the United States recommends the exploration of controversial public policy issues and the use of reflective inquiry, we did not find much evidence of that in either our textbook analysis or focus group interviews.

Authors of most of the other IEA case studies made similar observations. They noted that despite calls for more student discussion and participation, most instruction remains teacher dominated. Teacher presentation and student memorization of facts was said to be prevalent in such countries as the Czech Republic, Colombia, Italy, and Portugal. Furthermore, the authors of the case studies for Hungary and Hong Kong reported that teachers tend to avoid politically sensitive issues.



Students learn about democracy and citizenship from co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, as well as from classroom lessons. The most common experiences reported by participants in our focus groups were mock presidential elections. Students also noted that by electing peers to leadership activities in the band, clubs, and student government, they learned about democracy and citizenship.

Middle school teachers described Citizen of the Month programs, programs in conflict resolution and peer mediation, and community service projects. Other teachers described ways in which their students were learning to be active citizens by analyzing local problems and undertaking related projects, and by working in campaigns or monitoring elections. Several teachers noted that students participated in state- and nationally-sponsored programs that introduce young people to legislative and judicial processes. Examples included mock trials, We the People competitions, Lobby Day, and Close Up.

However, not all teachers in our focus groups felt that their school provided opportunities for students to experience participatory democracy. Notably, several teachers in different urban schools commented that it was difficult to teach about democracy and speaking one’s opinion in the atmosphere of their school. They said that although they encouraged their students to speak, they knew that many of their colleagues told students to be quiet, listen, and take notes or do seat work. Furthermore, the students in one school district had to be silent in the halls and lunchroom. One teacher expressed concern that when she taught in an urban school,

there was no sense of responsibility put on the kids other than to be in class and on time. What the administrators in our building were most concerned about was order, and the last thing they wanted was for kids to speak out on issues.

Opportunities for democratic participation appear to vary considerably from one school to another, and even from one class to another in the same school. While some students participate in student government, extracurricular activities, and special programs, many others do not. Impressions from our focus groups are reinforced by data from the 1988 NAEP, in which 52 percent of 12th graders reported that they had never participated in mock elections, councils, or trials.20 Hopefully, the 1998 NAEP will provide more information about this issue, as will Phase 2 of the IEA study. It will be especially important to analyze data by subgroups to determine whether students from particular racial, ethnic, and economic groups have fewer opportunities than students in other groups to experience participatory democracy in school.

Despite the apparent variation within the country, it seems that, overall, students in the United States may have more opportunities to learn about democracy, political institutions, and the citizen’s role from co-curricular and extra-curricular activities than are available in many other countries. Student councils were the most common activity mentioned by case study authors (eg. Australia, Colombia, England, and Hong Kong). Mock elections were mentioned for Hong Kong and Lithuania. In Australia, there are state-level youth parliaments, and in the French community of Belgium there is a “lawyer in the schoo#148; program. Community service activities have been particularly prevalent in English schools. Young people in Cyprus and Greece are often members of the youth organizations of political parties.

In Eastern Europe, the collapse of the youth organizations of the Communist Party has created a kind of vacuum. With the current attention to developing strong civil societies, new voluntary associations are emerging, some of which have an interest in civic education. Additionally, individuals and groups that have been active in civic education in the United States are working with colleagues in Central and Eastern Europe. They are attending to co-curricular activities as well as to developing curriculum and teacher education programs that address this domain (e.g., the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland). Civitas, an international network of civic educators, has been particularly active in addressing this domain.

Domain II: National Identity

Elementary school children in the United States learn about their national identity from celebrations of holidays, stories of national leaders, and lessons in the country’s history. The presence of flags and the practice of saluting the flag, while not universal, are often “taken for granted” in the United States. Such practices, however, are rare or nonexistent in many countries (e.g., England, Germany, Hong Kong, and Italy).

To ascertain 14-15 year-olds’ sense of national identity in the United States, we asked students in the focus groups what it meant to them to be an American. In all four groups, students said “freedom” and “being free.” One explained, “We have a lot more freedom to express our beliefs than [people in] other countries.” Several students in Texas noted that being an American meant being a citizen or resident, as opposed to “not legal.” In that group, as well as the others, students expressed pride in being Americans at the same time that they described ways in which some of the nation’s history had not lived up to the ideal of freedom and equality for all.



All 48 of the respondents to our state survey reported that U.S. history is taught in the majority of school districts in their state. Nearly 90 percent said it is taught in the 11th grade. Eighth grade was the second most common grade cited (68 percent). Twenty-one percent reported it was taught in grades 6 or 7. Authors of all of the 24 national case studies in the IEA project noted that students study their nation’s history. However, the emphasis varies. For example, in Greece, students study about the ancient Greeks and the long history of the Greek people. In Portugal, the goal is to teach about Portuga#146;s role in Europe and to develop “a European consciousness.”



Because national identity is formed, in part, through connecting children to a nation’s “story,” the narrative presented in textbooks is relevant. Across the civics and history books examined for the case study of the United States, a common story is told of significant events, people, and documents.21 Events related to the country’s founding and to armed conflict dominate the history books, and to a lesser extent, the civics books. The U.S. Constitution is the document at the center of the country’s narrative. All six of the widely-used civics and U.S. history textbooks include a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

The people most frequently mentioned in the textbooks, with only a few notable exceptions such as Martin Luther King, Jr, are European American males who held political office.22 More than half the individuals mentioned were presidents of the United States. The images presented in the textbooks seem to be the ones that are most remembered by students and teachers.



Topics covered in the classrooms of teachers and students from our focus groups included the colonial period, the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the War with Mexico, and the Civil War. Focus group students identified a number of national heroes they had studied in school. These included presidents, military leaders, and civil rights leaders.23

Not surprisingly, the documents that students associated with their nation’s history were the Articles of Confederation, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Teachers in our focus groups confirmed the importance placed on the Constitution, particularly in civics classes. One teacher elaborated, “We do the Constitution, in depth. By the time I’m through with them, they can cite chapter and verse of all articles and sections of the Constitution.”

In referring to events in the nation’s past, the students we interviewed frequently used terms such as “we,” “us,” or “our.” Clearly, they identified with the narrative presented in history books, even when they knew that their own personal ancestors were not part of the dominant group at the time of the particular event to which they referred. That phenomenon has been found by other researchers.24

Although all of the authors of IEA case studies report that students study their nation’s history, young people do not necessarily develop a strong sense of national identity. Indeed, in Germany and Italy, patriotism and nationalism carry a negative connotation because of their association with fascism. In Hungary, belonging to the nation appears to receive less emphasis than belonging to micro communities like the family or belonging to all of humankind. In Bulgaria, there is a reported sense among young people that national identity has broken down. Some young people in Hong Kong think of themselves as Hong Kongese and others as Chinese. Colombia is described as a “nation of provinces” because local regional identity tends to be stronger than national identity.

Identity in Switzerland is tied to being a citizen of a multicultural and multilingual state. Canada is described as a multinational state with three national groupings (English Canada, Quebec, and First Nations) and a substantial number of immigrants. Additionally, there is debate about the extent to which “Canadians” should be identified with the British Commonwealth. Similarly, there is debate in Australia about what it means to be Australian, with an increasing divergence from the Commonwealth heritage and identification as a multicultural state consisting of peoples whose ancestors were aborigines, Europeans, and Asians.

The Phase 1 case studies, which emphasize the intended curriculum, say little about how multiple narratives in multicultural states are conveyed to students and how they are represented in a young person’s sense of identity. This is an area that requires more comparative research in the future. In Phase 2 students responded to items designed to assess how they feel about their country and about rights for diverse groups. However, the complex process of identity formation under differing sociocultural contexts requires more in-depth, primarily qualitative, research than is possible in a study involving 30 countries.

Domain III: Social Cohesion and Social Diversity

The third area investigated in the IEA Civic Education Study is what students are expected to learn about those belonging to groups that are seen as set apart, for example, by ethnicity, race, immigrant status, mother tongue, social class, religion, or gender. Related to this is what students are expected to learn about discrimination and how instances of past oppression or discrimination are dealt with in civic education.


In the state survey, respondents from only nine states reported that the majority of districts in their state teach separate courses in ethnic studies, and those tended to be offered to 11th and 12th graders. However, 73 percent of the respondents said they thought that ethnic studies were infused into other courses, especially U.S. history.



The United States is depicted in all of the civics and U.S. history textbooks examined as a “nation of immigrants.” The civics texts describe the country’s immigration policies and the naturalization process. The history texts present an historical overview of waves of immigration, with some discussion of why immigrants come to the United States. The history texts describe the earliest immigrants crossing the Bering Straits and later immigrants’ experiences. Each history book discusses slavery.

Ethnic minorities are mentioned in the textbooks primarily in their roles as advocates for political rights. Very few Latinos or individuals with Asian ancestry are cited. Women receive substantially less coverage than men, particularly in the civics textbooks. Although the disparity between men and women in the political realm is noted, there is little discussion of the implications. Women are discussed more often in the history texts than in the civics texts, although comparatively few women (and even fewer women of color) are mentioned when compared to the number of men.25



Little empirical evidence exists about the extent to which the curriculum implemented in our nation’s classrooms is multicultural.26 The teachers and students in our focus groups reported that their U.S. history courses included some attention to diverse groups. The students cited the treatment of Native Americans during the “westward movement” of European Americans, and of blacks under slavery and segregation, as well as during the civil rights movement. In addition to instruction in U.S. history, students in the focus groups mentioned lessons about discrimination they had in conjunction with Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and with Black History Month.

Only a few students mentioned any attention to Latinos or Asian Americans in history courses. One teacher in the Seattle area, however, explained:

We usually start with our state history and discuss the people who populate our region. We discuss who was in our state first...we look at the Native Americans, and then we begin to look at the people who came later...If we are talking about the building of railroads, we discuss the arrival of the Chinese. When we talk about the expansion of our farmlands, we discuss the Japanese arrival and involvement with this expansion. We talk about the arrival of African Americans into our region.

Several teachers also said they talked about discrimination against women, religious minorities, and immigrants in their history classes.

These findings are similar to those obtained by the history education expert we interviewed. She said that in her research on students’ historical understanding, by the end of 8th grade “all of the kids knew there was prejudice” and that “race, class, and gender were problematic” in the history of the United States.

None of the students in our focus groups mentioned particular extra-curricular activities that contributed to their knowledge of diverse groups, except indirectly. Most students reported learning about different groups from socializing with peers who were members of a cultural or racial group different from their own. Personal experiences taught these young people about diversity in the contemporary context, while history lessons told them about diversity in the past.

Unlike the adults who often fiercely debate national unity vs. cultural diversity as if it were a dichotomy, the young people we interviewed seemed to feel that both themes exist simultaneously. They described contributions by diverse groups to a shared history of the nation, and they cited inequities of the past and the present. At the same time, they referred to “our” country and spoke of what “we” did.

In looking at the IEA case studies, it is interesting to consider the varied groups that are salient in other countries. The populations of Canada and Australia, like the United States, consist of aboriginal or First Nations descendants, as well as immigrants from all over the globe. In these countries, there has been a concerted effort to explicitly recognize diversity within the country.

In Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland with their relatively homogeneous populations, there exists animosity toward Gypsies; in some cases, anti-Semitism has also been evident. New curricula, teaching materials, and teacher education programs for the most part have not confronted these issues. For example, the case study authors in the Czech Republic noted that the textbooks do not include photographs of Roms (Gypsies). Anti-racist messages and education for tolerance are missing. The case study of Cyprus also describes a lack of multicultural education, noting that students do not learn about the cultures of the Turkish Cypriots, the Armenians, and the Maronites in their society. In Switzerland, tensions among linguistic minorities were identified as important, yet it was reported that civic education gives little attention to the problem. Interestingly, no case study author proclaimed a fully successful multicultural program.



The case study for the United States portion of the IEA study identified several challenges for civic education, including one that strikes at the heart of the national ideal of equality and justice for all. In the 1990s, most states revised content standards and developed new tests to assess attainment of the standards. However, it seems the need may be less to equalize what students are taught than how they are taught. Textbook analyses and focus groups pointed toward little variation in the content students receive. However, as the project staff listened to students and teachers from different schools in different parts of the country, it sounded as if students in urban schools serving families from lower economic levels may be less likely to experience varied instructional strategies and democratic school environments than students in schools serving more affluent families. Consequently, the messages students in different school settings receive about democracy, national identity, and diversity may be quite different.

The case study from Colombia hints at a similar disparity between urban and rural students, with the rural students receiving a more impoverished civic education. The author of the Swiss case study noted a growing gap between the rich and poor that, he said, is referred to as the “Americanization” of society. It remains for Phase 2 to determine, with nationally representative samples of students, the extent to which socioeconomic disparities are reinforced by existing civic education.

We hope that the IEA Civic Education Study will not be viewed merely as a “cognitive Olympics” with winners and losers. It has far greater value in showing civic educators everywhere that they share common aspirations and similar challenges. The study demonstrates also that civic education has dimensions that are a product of particular sociocultural and historical settings. Readers can gain insights by looking at alternative policies and practices undertaken in other countries in light of their own cultural values. Ultimately, each society must decide how best to achieve the goals that are important to it in ways that are culturally meaningful. We believe the IEA study is an important step in facilitating that process.



1. The IEA is probably best known for its studies of science and mathematics, such as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). It has been almost 30 years since IEA conducted a study of civic education. See J. V. Torney, A. N. Oppenheim, and R. F. Farnen, Civic Education in Ten Countries. (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiskell, 1975).

2. The International Steering Committee, chaired by Judith Torney-Purta, has members from Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States, each of whom brings particular expertise in case study analysis, instrument construction, teacher preparation, or statistics.

3. The countries involved in the study are Australia, Belgium (French speaking), Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States.

4. J. Torney-Purta, J. Schwille, and J. A. Amadeo, eds., Civic Education Across Countries: Twenty-four National Case Studies from the IEA Civic Education Project (Amsterdam: IEA, 1999). The book is being distributed by National Council for the Social Studies. Contact 1-800-683-0812 and quote item 409501 for details.

5. Ibid., 30.

6. Approximately ten countries, not including the United States, will survey an older population of 17-18 year olds as well.

7. The following report is based on the chapter by C. L. Hahn, “Challenges to Civic Education in the United States,” and other case studies, in J. Torney-Purta, J. Schwille, and J. A. Amadeo, eds., Civic Education Across Countries: Twenty-four National Case Studies from the IEA Civic Education Project (Amsterdam: IEA, 1999). As the national project representative for the United States, Carole Hahn is grateful to the many people who made possible the research reported here. Paulette Dilworth, Michael Hughes, Trisha Sen, and Lois Wolfe assisted with the data collection and analysis from surveys and focus groups, as well as with the survey of literature. Patricia Avery and Annette Miller conducted the textbook analysis. Gloria Contreras, Theresa Johnson, and Walter Parker conducted focus groups. Members of the National Expert Panel who provided advice and assistance were Patricia Avery, Margaret Branson, Gloria Contreras, Shielah Mann, Richard Niemi, Pat Nickell, Valerie Pang, Walter Parker, John Patrick, and Richard Sirvint. Thanks to the teachers, students, state social studies specialists, scholars, and members of organizations who shared their viewpoints with us. Portions of Phase 1 were funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the United States Department of Education through a subcontract with Pelavin/American Institutes for Research, Washington, D. C. The information presented here represents the views of the authors and not NCES.

8. For a fourth domain, participating countries addressed one of three possibilities—media influence, local participation, or the connection between the political and economic systems. The United States’ case study addresses the economic-political connection. See Hahn (1999).

9. We also sent surveys to approximately 100 organizations involved in civic education and examined their websites to compile an annotated bibliography of organizations. See National Expert Panel, Responses to the 18 Framing Questions: The IEA Civic Education Study, Phase 1 in the United States, unpublished manuscript (Atlanta: Emory University, 1998).

10. For the complete reports prepared for the international data base, see C. L. Hahn, P. P. Dilworth, and M. Hughes, Review of the Literature: IEA Civic Education Study, Phase 1 in the United States, unpublished manuscript (Atlanta: Emory University, 1998); C. L. Hahn, P. P. Dilworth, M. Hughes, and T. Sen, Responses to the Four Core International Framing Questions: The IEA Civic Education Study, Phase 1 in the United States, unpublished manuscript (Atlanta: Emory University, 1998); and National Expert Panel (1998).

11. Case studies of other countries with federalist systems (Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland) also faced the challenge of describing variety across states, provinces, and cantons. Centralized curriculum (e.g., Bulgaria and Greece) or goals (e. g., the Czech Republic and Lithuania) are common elsewhere.

12. We used the membership list of the Council of State Social Studies Specialists of National Council for the Social Studies, and through phone calls we identified the person considered to be the most knowledgeable about social studies statewide.

13. State social studies specialists provided lists of adopted texts (if any existed). Three experts in civics and U. S. history teaching and a staff member of the American Textbook Council nominated books that they thought were widely used. From the resulting lists, three books for U. S. history and three books for civics/government for grades 7-9 were selected for analysis.

14. P. Avery and A. Miller, “A Content Analysis of U.S. History and Civics Textbooks: U. S. National Case Study for IEA Civic Education Project,” paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego., 1998). The index of interrater reliability obtained was .85-.95

15. Hahn.

16. Torney-Purta, et al.

17. R. Niemi and J. Junn, Civic Education: What Makes Students Learn. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

18. Avery and Miller.

19. Niemi and Junn.

20. Ibid.

21. Avery and Miller.

22. Ibid.

23. Also related to national identity are student perceptions of allies and enemies. Focus group students mentioned England, Germany, and Japan as countries that were once enemies but now allies.

24. K. Barton and L. Levstik, “It Wasn’t a Good Part of History,” Teachers College Record 99: 478-513.

25. Avery and Miller.

26. P. P. Dilworth, Variations in Multicultural Content: The Intended and Implemented Curriculum in Middle School Social Studies, unpublished manuscript (Atlanta: Emory University, 1998).


Carole L. Hahn is a professor in the Educational Studies Division, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and National Research Coordinator for the IEA Study in the United States. Judith Torney-Purta is a professor in the Department of Human Development, University of Maryland, College Park, and chair of the International Steering Committee for the IEA Study.

©1999 National Council for the Social Studies. All rights reserved.