In the weeks that this article was being written, approximately 15,000 students in Year 6 and Year 10 classrooms in 620 schools from all jurisdictions and sectors across the country are sitting the second cycle of national testing in Civics and Citizenship. The first cycle of this testing, which was conducted in October 2004, involved approximately 20,000 students from 567 primary and secondary schools. These constitute large events in the life of the national assessment agenda, and are especially significant for the field of Civics and Citizenship, as they give priority to an area which has previously lacked formal recognition and implementation in education in Australia. In December 2006, almost two years after the assessment had been conducted, the results from the National Assessment Program – Civics and Citizenship for Years 6 and 10, prepared by ACER for the Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA), was formally released. It had caused a storm of media controversy when it was revealed most students could not answer questions about iconic events in Australian history, such as events commemorated on ANZAC Day or Australia Day. Further, while students seemed to appreciate their democracy, their level of knowledge and understanding of civics and citizenship was considerably less than was expected by practitioner experts who had contributed to the study. The findings from the assessment, described and analysed in the project report, demonstrated that Australia has an urgent need for formal education in civics and citizenship if primary and secondary students are to increase their civics knowledge and understanding and improve their citizenship dispositions regarding participation in their civil society. The findings of this report were intended to form an important part of a suite of policy and curricula documentation to support a broader and more intense implementation of Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) in Australian schools.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/suzanne_mellor/41/