Monday, 14 Oct 2002

MEDIA RELEASE For release on 14 October 2002 Australian Students’ Civics Results Schools can make a difference in young people’s awareness of politics and participation in civic activities that benefit the community according to international expert in civic education and youth development, Professor Judith Torney-Purta of the University of Maryland who is in Sydney to address the ACER Research Conference 2002 - Providing World-Class School Education: What can Australia learn from international achievement studies? * “Civic education is very important and it has been neglected in international comparative studies. It has been 30 years since the last large-scale international study of civic education,” Professor Torney-Purta says. “But now in many countries, including Australia and the United States, new interest is being expressed.” In her paper to be delivered Tuesday, Professor Torney-Purta examines the Australian results in civic knowledge and engagement from the IEA International Civic Education Study focusing on a description of the Australian results in comparison with the other 27 countries that tested 14 year olds in 1999. She gives special attention to the two other English- speaking countries that participated – England and the United States. “Australian students’ performed very well, ranking fourth out of 28 countries, on the test items assessing skills in interpreting political information,” Professor Torney-Purta says. “However, they did not perform well, ranking only 15th, in their ability to understand principles and concepts underlying democracy.” Professor Torney-Purta’s address will also examine commonalities and differences in pedagogical practice and will draw some conclusions about the particular situation of students and of teachers in Australia. Judith Torney-Purta holds a BA from Stanford University (Psychology) and a PhD from the University of Chicago (Human Development). She has been professor of human development in the College of Education at the University of Maryland at College Park since 1981.