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Encyclopedia > National Assessment of Educational Progress

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969, assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and the arts.

Under the current structure, the Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), appointed by the Secretary of Education but independent of the Department, sets policy for NAEP and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the assessments. NAGB is a bipartisan group whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), as part of the U.S. Department of Education, collects, analyzes, and publishes statistics on education and public school district finance information in the United States; conducts studies on international comparisons of education statistics; and provides leadership in developing and promoting the use... The United States Department of Education was created in 1979 (by PL 96-88) as a Cabinet-level department of the United States government, and began operating in 1980. ... ...

NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools; instead, it offers results regarding subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students). NAEP results are based on a sample of student populations of interest.


National NAEP

National NAEP reports information for the nation and specific geographic regions of the country. It includes students drawn from both public and nonpublic schools and reports results for student achievement at grades 4, 8, and 12.

These assessments follow the frameworks developed by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), and use the latest advances in assessment methodology. For example, NAEP assessments include a large percentage of constructed-response questions and questions that require the use of calculators and other materials. Innovative types of questions have been used in assessments such as the arts (theatre, music, and visual arts) and science to measure students' ability to perform hands-on tasks.

As the content and nature of the NAEP instruments evolve to match instructional practice, we reduce the ability of the assessment to measure change over time in student performance. While short-term trends can be measured in many of the NAEP subjects (e.g., mathematics, reading), the more reliable instrument of change over time is the NAEP long-term trend assessment.

State NAEP

Since 1990, NAEP assessments have also been conducted to give results for participating states. Those that choose to participate receive assessment results that report on the performance of students in that state. In its content, the state assessment is identical to the assessment conducted nationally. However, because the national NAEP samples were not, and are not currently designed to support the reporting of accurate and representative state-level results, separate representative samples of students are selected for each participating jurisdiction/state.

Beginning with the 2002 assessments, a combined sample of public schools was selected for both state and national NAEP. This was done in response to the NCES/NAGB redesign of 1998. It was thought that drawing a subset of schools from all of the state samples to produce national estimates would reduce burden by decreasing the total number of schools participating in state and national NAEP. From this group of schools, representing 50 states, a subsample was identified as the national subset.

Therefore, the national sample is a subset of the combined sample of students assessed in each participating state, plus an additional sample from the states that did not participate in the state assessment. This additional sample ensures that the national sample is representative of the total national student population. The full data set is analyzed together, allowing all data to contribute to the final results and setting a single scale for the assessment. All results are then reported in the scale score metric used for the specific assessment.

The 2003 assessments in mathematics and reading had a state component at grades 4 and 8. Overall, 53 states and jurisdictions participated in the two assessments. In 2002, 51 states and jurisdictions participated in the writing assessment at grades 4 and 8. The most recent state assessments were held in 2005; results in mathematics and reading will be reported in fall 2005, and science results will be reported in 2006.

NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment

Federal appropriations authorized for the No Child Left Behind Act supported a multiyear study of the feasibility of a Trial Urban District Assessment of Educational Progress. The first Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) occurred in reading and writing in 2002 for five urban districts—Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City—plus the District of Columbia. See the results for the 2002 TUDA in writing; the results for the 2002 TUDA in mathematics and reading are included in the most recent results. Signing ceremony at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio. ...

The Trial Urban District Assessment continued with NAEP 2003; nine districts—Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego—plus the Distict of Columbia were assessed in mathematics and reading.

Eleven districts participated in the NAEP 2005 TUDA. The same nine districts that participated in 2003 plus Austin were assessed in all three subjects: mathematics, reading, and science. The District of Columbia also participated in mathematics and reading. The results for mathematics and reading are to be reported in fall, 2005; science TUDA results are scheduled for release in 2006.

Long-Term Trend

NAEP long-term trend (LTT) assessments are designed to give information on the changes in academic performance of America's youth. They are administered nationally every four years (but are not reported at state or district level) and report student performance at ages 9, 13, and 17 in mathematics and reading. Measuring trends of student achievement or change over time requires the precise replication of past procedures. Therefore, the long-term trend instrument does not evolve based on changes in curricula or in educational practices, unlike the main NAEP national and state assessments in mathematics and reading, which respond to changes in the classroom by updating the framework for the assessment about every decade, as needed. The long-term trend assessment differs from the main national and state assessments in several other important ways.

Special Studies

In addition to the assessments, NAEP coordinates a number of special educational studies related to assessment. Ongoing projects include the High School Transcript Study and a Technology-Based Assessment project designed to explore the use of technology, especially the use of the computer as a tool to enhance the quality and efficiency of educational assessments. In 2002, NAEP began a new study of fourth-graders, the Oral Reading Study. In 2003, NAEP conducted a pilot study using an augmented sample of charter schools. You may read about the study and the report, America's Charter Schools, on this site. NCES conducted the National Indian Education Study (NIES) in 2005.

External links

  • NAEP web site



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