International study of city youth

International comparisons of education systems are an important part of educational research. They provide a practical way of capturing the extent to which particular approaches to the design and organization of education systems either aggravate or attenuate differences in student experiences and outcomes.

Studying how well other countries educate their citizens, and deliver opportunities to learners within their education and training systems, helps us evaluate our own education system. Exploring policy developments and initiatives in different countries is also an important means for identifying improvement opportunities.

International Study of City Youth (ISCY)

The International Study of City Youth (ISCY) is a study of high school students and the schools they attend in major cities of the world. The study is designed to compare how well school systems in major cities of different industrialised countries in Europe, North America and Australia and Asia are preparing young people for further study and careers. It provides information on students’ secondary school options, their trajectories into college and employment, and their integration into civic and economic life. The study examines how these experiences and outcomes vary for different groups of students.

ISCY follows matched cohorts of Year 10 students in participating cities who in the base year completed numeracy and literacy tests as well as a questionnaire about their background, plans for the future, and views on school and society. It also has measures of social and emotional skills such as resilience, conscientiousness, confidence and creativity.

Teachers and school leaders also completed questionnaires on teaching, learning, school resources and context.

Baseline survey data were collected in 2014-2015 from principals, teachers and more than 40,000 students in 400 participating schools in 14 cities.

The information collected provides insights into how educational paths and achievement shape student education and career trajectories, civic engagement, and well-being. The data help identify which students do best in the final years of schooling, and which students are at risk of being left behind. Its comparative nature offers the opportunity to identify policies and practices that promote better outcomes as young people transition out of secondary education. It is a unique opportunity to identify which policies and programs in which school systems deliver the best outcomes, from which other systems can learn.

Download The International Study of City Youth: A brief overview (PDF, 142KB).

CIRES researchers included

Measuring student skills

The Centre for International Research on Education Systems (CIRES) at Victoria University, in partnership with the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), undertook an ISCY extension study to examine the measurement of social and emotional skills.

The project compared student self-report, direct assessment and teacher judgement of select social and emotional skills and key capabilities within a sample of case study schools in Melbourne. Participants from the various schools were brought together in a workshop, which was jointly coordinated by the VCAA and CIRES, to discuss research findings and the relevance of the skills.

This project was developed on the basis of a key technical paper published online by CIRES. The paper drew on existing literature to develop new and robust scales for measuring skills, engagement and dispositions using student self-report surveys that are suited for international comparison.

CIRES researchers included