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NAEP: Measuring Student Progress Since 1964

Collage of people and publications illustrating NAEP history

After much exploration in the early 1960s, the idea of a national assessment gained impetus in 1963. NAEP planning began in 1964, with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation to set up the Exploratory Committee for the Assessment of Progress in Education (ECAPE) in June. This was followed by the appointment of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in 1965. 

The first national assessments were held in 1969. Voluntary assessments for the states began in 1990 on a trial basis, were made a permanent feature of NAEP every two years. In 2002, selected urban districts participated in the state-level assessments on a trial basis, and continue as the Trial Urban District Assessment

In 2009, a new framework for the NAEP science assessment began a move to computer-based assessment, when part of the student sample completed interactive computer tasks. In 2011, the NAEP writing assessment for grades 8 and 12 was administered entirely on computer. The new NAEP technology and engineering literacy assessment in 2014 is also entirely on computer.

The development of a successful NAEP program has involved many, including researchers, state education officials, contractors, policymakers, students, and teachers. Explore the documents below to learn about the inception and evolution of NAEP:

  • Read a brief technical history of NAEP from the The NAEP Primer.
  • A detailed history of NAEP, including the challenges faced since its beginnings—from the institution of voluntary state assessments to federally funded NAEP coordinators in each state—was released in April 2004 to coincide with NAEP's 40th anniversary. This book, The Nation’s Report Card: Evolutions and Perspectives, edited by L. V. Jones and Ingram Olkin, is now out of print but available through libraries.
  • Read a short history of NAEP and the Governing Board PDF File (620 KB), Overseeing the Nation's Report Card: the Creation and Evolution of the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) by Maris Vinovskis, 1998.
  • Read what may be in the future for NAEP: in 2011 and 2012, experts in assessment, measurement, cognition, and technology worked with NCES to develop a high-level vision for the future of the NAEP program.  
  • View other documents about NAEP in the Research e-Center Library.
  • See a list of contractors who have been involved with NAEP since 1969.
  • See a history of the state NAEP program.
  • Explore NAEP assessments since 1969 including assessments in main NAEP and long-term trend, in all subjects and grades.

Learn more about NAEP.


Last updated 27 November 2012 (MS)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education