The National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship: Reflections on Practices in Primary and Secondary Schools
Young citizens leaving secondary school should be competent in decision making and knowledgeable about the processes of civic participation available to them as citizens. Across the world over the last two decades, concerns have been consistently expressed over a perceived lessening of interest by citizens, especially younger citizens, in active participation in the formal governance of their societies. A range of policies have been developed by governments to vigorously address this trend. This presentation will explore assumptions underlying the current provision of Civics and Citizenship education (CCE) programs in Australia, and the conceptual and cognitive definition of the domain by education jurisdictions and the national assessment regime. It will demonstrate, through an examination of assessment materials and findings from the assessments, what is now known about the capacity of school-aged Australian citizens to participate in governance. It examines the role schools can play in better supporting their students. It argues that unless there is a greater improvement in Civics and Citizenship achievement than has been evident to date, Australia’s young people will not have the necessary competencies or dispositions for citizenship participation in their future civic life, and all parties will be the poorer for it. A central proposition for this paper and for the work associated with the National Assessment Program–Civics and Citizenship, is a belief that democratic societies need the active participation of their citizens to stay healthy. This view is universally endorsed in democratic societies, though there is debate about what form the active participation should take in any particular situation. Across the world, over the last two decades there has been a perceived lessening of interest by citizens, especially younger citizens, in active participation in the formal governance of their societies. This trend has concerned governments in democracies and a range of policies have been developed to vigorously address the trend. Supporting the teaching and learning of Civics and Citizenship in schools has been one way of addressing this perceived lessening of interest. National assessment in Civics and Citizenship has been seen as a driver for increasing the profile of and providing a focus for increasing the provision of explicit Civics and Citizenship education (CCE).
Mellor, Suzanne, "The National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship: Reflections on Practices in Primary and Secondary Schools" (2008).