The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) – better known as the Nation’s Report Card – is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas.
The first national assessment was held in 1969 and continues today. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and beginning in 2014, in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL). NAEP assessments are common to all states, giving the public a comparable set of student achievement data.
NAEP results are issued as the Nation’s Report Card and the assessment is administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), a part of the U.S Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (the research arm of the Department).
While the intention of NAEP was to provide broad information about student achievement, prior to 1996, NAEP did not allow accommodations for students with disabilities or English language learners, resulting in high rates of exclusion for these two student groups. Today, while there are many accommodations provided on NAEP, 4% of students with disabilities were excluded from the Math NAEP assessment in 2011, an area that CEC continues to monitor.
Is the NAEP similar to a state assessment? Yes and no. It is similar in such a way that both tests are designed to analyze the achievements of the students they are administered to but they are completely different content-wise. State assessments are unique to a particular state, align to a state’s content standards, and focus on student’s individual achievements rather than as a collective state unit. Another difference is the contextual questionnaires students, teachers, and principals are asked to take upon completion of the NAEP assessment. Click here to learn more about the questionnaires.
NAEP assessments are given to fourth, eighth, and twelfth grade students. The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets NAEP policy, determines the schedule for the assessment as well as the content to be measured. Download a PDF of the assessment schedule here.
Why is student participation so important? Participation allows NAEP to obtain an accurate reading of the performance of students in the United States. Because this is not an individualized test, not every student is required to take it. NCES uses a sampling process that’s allows students taking the assessment to represent hundreds of other students while taking into account the geographic, racial/ethnic, and socioeconomics diversity of their school. Participation will insure the collection of useful information that can be used to asses student progress and develop ways to improve education across the nation. Read more about NAEP in their 2013 Overview brochure.