ICCS 2022. Results of the International Civic and Citizenship Education Survey!

Polish eighth graders scored among the highest in terms of knowledge and understanding of civic issues among 20 countries. At the same time, students are characterized by low levels of trust in other people and institutions, and are critical of the functioning of the political system.

On November 28, the results of the ICCS 2022 International Civic and Citizenship Education Study were published. Poland’s study report was prepared by the International Research Team responsible for conducting the ICCS in the country.

The ICCS is the largest international survey of civic education conducted among students in the eighth year of schooling – in Poland, students in the eighth grade of elementary school participate. The aim of the study is to find out to what extent young people are prepared for their role as citizens in a democratic society. The survey provides information on young people's knowledge and understanding of civic issues, civic opinions and attitudes, as well as their civic engagement.

The previous ICCS survey, which included Polish students, took place in 2009. The ICCS 2022 survey shows what changes in the knowledge, attitudes and declared civic behaviour of Polish youth have occurred in 13 years.


Knowledge and understanding of civic issues

  • Polish eighth graders in 2022 had one of the highest average scores (554 points) in knowledge and understanding of civic issues among 20 countries. Only students from Taiwan (583 points) and Sweden (565 points) had higher scores. Polish students, together with students from Estonia (545 points), were ranked third (the difference between the Polish and Estonian scores is not statistically significant).
  • When compared to other countries, the overall results of Polish students are not very differentiated – the level of students' skills is equalized in Poland. There is also little variation in the performance among schools.
  • The survey distinguished four levels of students' skills – from the highest (A) to the lowest (D). In Poland, almost half of the students (48%) achieved the highest level (A). A particularly positive finding to note is that only 5% of students in Poland were at or below the lowest level (D) – this percentage was significantly lower only in Taiwan.
  • As in other countries, girls in Poland scored higher than boys in terms of knowledge and understanding of civic issues (a difference of 24 points).
  • Between 2009 and 2016, most of the countries participating in the survey saw an increase in average scores, while between 2016 and 2022, many countries saw a decrease, and others saw no change. The declines can be linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences for education systems.
  • The results of the ICCS 2009 and ICCS 2022 for Poland can be compared, and they show shows that the average score of students increased from 536 to 554 points, an increase of 18 points.
  • Polish students do very well with tasks requiring the reproduction of information about the democratic system, and they also do well in areas concerning institutions, systems or civic values. They have slightly more difficulty with tasks referring to the current problems and threats of the modern world – relating, for example, to sustainable development or "fake news," the verification of information.

Opinions and attitudes of young people towards important social issues

  • About three-quarters of eighth-graders are proud to live in Poland and consider themselves patriots. Compared to 2009, the sense of identification with Europe has strengthened and is widespread in 2022. Among eighth-graders, the combination of Polish national identity with European identity and a strong identification with the European Union is prevalent.
  • Polish eighth-graders do not differ from peers in other countries in their attitudes toward democracy – three-quarters of them agree with the statement that "although there may be various problems with democracy, it is still the best form of government for Poland."
  • Polish students stand out in terms of their negative assessment of the functioning of the political system – only one in three believes that "the political system in Poland works well." Compared to students in 20 countries, Polish eighth graders are among the most distrustful of parliament, government, political parties, but also the courts or police. They are less likely than peers in other countries to assume that they will join a political party or support a candidate's campaign in future elections.
  • Only slightly more than a third of eighth graders indicate that people can be trusted completely or to a great extent. Between 2009 and 2022, the number of such indications fell by as much as 22 percentage points, from 58% to 36%. Students' trust in schools is also low. Polish eighth-graders have the greatest trust in academics (84% of students trust them completely or to a great extent). Poland is among the countries where young people have the highest trust in people in science.
  • An overwhelming majority of Polish eighth graders recognize the principles of equality between the sexes, equal rights for immigrants and equality for all ethnic groups. Compared to 2009, the percentage of eighth-graders expressing strong support for these principles has increased.
  • Among the five issues most frequently cited by students in Poland as a major threat to the world's future were four environmental issues: pollution, water shortages, extinction of plant and animal species, and climate change. Polish eighth-graders agree that countries should act together on the world's environment, although they differ on how much this issue should be prioritized. Most recognize that the responsibility for environmental action also lies with individuals. Polish students' commitment to environmental action, however, is moderate. There also appears to be a lower awareness of broader environmental issues at the global level and an awareness of dimensions other than environmental sustainability.

Civic engagement – interest in political and social issues, activity at school and outside school

  • Polish students, compared to peers in other countries, stand out for their greater interest in political and social issues, and relatively often talk about politics and social issues with their parents or friends. In 2022, compared to 2009, the frequency of these conversations has increased, both in Poland and in other countries.
  • 41% of students use the Internet at least once a week to obtain information about politics and social issues. At the same time, however, eighth-graders' activity in the socio-political area on the Internet (such as sharing or commenting on content) is limited.
  • A key element of student self-governance in a Polish school is the students’ election of their representatives. These practices in Poland are more common than in other countries – almost all eighth-graders have voted in student government representative elections. Other forms of school civic involvement are less popular. The prevalence of participation in school elections does not necessarily translate in Polish students into a sense of inclusion in decision-making processes and a sense of influence over school affairs.
  • Compared to other countries, Polish students' extracurricular activity is average. Eighth-graders stand out positively in terms of involvement in volunteering for the local community – 59% of eighth-graders indicated that they had such experience. This is the highest percentage among the countries surveyed. Poland also saw a large increase in this area compared to 2009.
  • Despite generally negative attitudes toward the political system, as many as 86% of Poland's eighth-graders expect to vote in national elections when they come of age. Compared to 2009, there has been a large increase in young people's voting declarations – participation in elections is becoming a binding norm.

School context

  • Students in Poland rate the openness of classroom discussions relatively well, compared to their peers in other countries. They often feel encouraged by teachers to express their opinions and share them in class. At the same time, they are less likely to indicate that they are encouraged to have discussions with people who have a different opinion.
  • Polish students rate relationships at school worse than their peers in other countries, both between students and teachers and among the students themselves. Although positive ratings generally prevail, at the same time nearly one in three eighth-graders indicate that they do not feel treated fairly by their teachers and do not feel that teachers listen to what students have to say.

Differences in students’ results

  • Socioeconomic status is an important factor that differentiates the level of knowledge and understanding of civic issues. Students with better-educated parents, more books at home, and parents with higher occupational standing score higher. Students with higher and lower socioeconomic status differ in terms of current civic activity – school and extracurricular – and plans for future civic engagement, including declared participation in elections in adulthood.
  • ICCS 2022 is another study that confirms the relationship between openness to discussion in classes and the level of knowledge and understanding of civic issues. Students who are confident that they can discuss their views openly in class have a better understanding of the socio-political world around them and have more skills to act in that world.
  • The large differences between girls and boys in Poland in many areas is noteworthy. For example, girls have a higher level of knowledge and understanding of civic issues, but also have a more critical attitude toward the functioning of the political system, are more supportive of equal rights, and are more aware of environmental problems. They are more active in and out of school, are more likely to say they will vote in elections and help others in the future, while they are less likely than boys to predict that they will be actively involved in politics in the future.

About the ICCS

ICCS (International Civic and Citizenship Education Study) is an international survey of students' civic competence, conducted in the eighth year of school education. The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is the initiator and main organiser of the survey. More than 80,000 students, over 40,000 teachers and 3,000 school principals from 22 countries and 2 additional regions participated in ICCS 2022. Previous editions of the survey were held in 2009 and 2016. Poland took part in the first one, and after a break joined ICCS 2022.

The ICCS 2022 survey in Poland was prepared and conducted by the Educational Research Institute on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Science. The survey in schools was implemented from March 14 to April 29, 2022. Data were analysed from a representative sample of 4434 eighth-grade students and 2259 teachers teaching eighth grade from 170 randomly selected schools.