The NAEP civics assessment presents a broad view of how the nation’s students are learning the essential knowledge and skills of democratic citizenship and government.
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The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the development of NAEP frameworks that describe the specific knowledge and skills to be assessed in each subject. Frameworks incorporate ideas and input from subject area experts, school administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents, and others. The NAEP Civics Framework (803 KB) describes the assessment content and how students' responses are evaluated. This framework shaped the 1998, 2006, and 2010 civics assessments.
The assessment exercises and scoring criteria were developed by a committee of civics educators and curriculum experts to capture the goals of the framework. The framework, which describes the goals of the civics assessment and what kind of exercises it ought to feature, was created by the Board through a comprehensive national process involving educators, researchers, measurement experts, administrators, and members of the general public. The NAEP Civics Committee was instrumental in developing the assessment, guided by the framework.
The framework describes the types of texts and questions to be included in the assessment, as well as how the questions should be designed and scored. The framework recommends that the assessment should be organized around three main components:
Intellectual and participatory skills
At grades 4, 8, and 12, the assessment consisted of multiple-choice questions, designed to address the full range of knowledge and skill areas outlined in the civics framework document; and constructed-response questions consisting of both short- and extended-free response questions.
To learn more, see civics assessment questions in the NAEP Questions Tool.
NAEP also gives questionnaires to teachers, students, and schools that are part of the NAEP sample. Responses to these questionnaires give NAEP information about school policies affecting civics instruction, as well as information from schools about educational resources.
The NAEP 2010 civics assessment was administered nationally at grades 4, 8, and 12. Approximately 7,100 grade 4 students in 540 schools; 9,600 grade 8 students in 470 schools; and 9,900 grade 12 students in 460 schools were assessed. See details about participation rates and about sample size and target population.
The NAEP program does not, and is not designed to, report on the performance of individual students. Instead groups of the student population from representative national samples are assessed. For example, NAEP reports results for male and female students, Black and White students, and students in different regions of the country. Students are selected using a complex sampling design.
NAEP has always endeavored to assess all students selected as a part of its sampling process, including students who are classified by their schools as students with disabilities (SD) and English language learners (ELL). The decision to exclude any of these students is made by school personnel.
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NAEP assesses representative samples of students rather than the entire population of students. The sample selection process utilizes a probability sample design in which each school and each student has a known probability of being selected (the probabilities are proportionate to the estimated number of students in the grade assessed). Samples are selected according to a complex multistage design, with students drawn from within sampled public and private schools nationwide. See a diagram of sample selection for NAEP state assessments for a non-technical overview of the sampling process.
The Common Core of Data (CCD) file, a comprehensive list of operating public schools in each jurisdiction that is compiled each school year by NCES, served as the sampling frame for the selection of public schools in each state/jurisdiction.
The Private School Survey (PSS), a survey of all U.S. private schools carried out biennially by the Census Bureau under contract to NCES, served as the sampling frame for private schools.
Because each school that participated in the assessment, and each student assessed, represents only a portion of the larger population of interest, the results are weighted to make appropriate inferences between the student samples and the respective populations from which they are drawn. Sampling weights are adjusted for the disproportionate representation of some groups in the selected sample. This includes oversampling of schools with high concentrations of students from certain racial/ethnic groups and the lower sampling rates of students who attend very small schools. Read more about the technical aspects of the NAEP sample design.
Learn more about NAEP, the nation's largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what students know and can do in core subjects.
Explore NAEP civics results in the 2010 Civics Report Card.
Explore the most recent NAEP results in any subject on the website of The Nation’s Report Card.