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​​​​​​​​What Does the NAEP Economics Assessment Measure?

The 2012 NAEP economics assessment measured twelfth-graders understanding of how economies and markets work, the benefits and costs of economics interaction and interdependence, and the choices people make regarding limited resources. The 2012 assessment was the second economics assessment administered by NAEP. The first was administered in 2006. Economic literacy is defined by the NAEP economics frameworkPDF File (3.3 MB)​, developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, as the ability to identify, analyze, and evaluate the consequences of individual decisions and public policy. Economic literacy includes an understanding of the following concepts:

  • the fundamental constraints imposed by limited resources, the resulting choices people have to make, and the trade-offs they face;
  • how economies and markets work and how people function within them; and
  • the benefits and costs of economic interaction and interdependence among people and nations.

The economics assessment measures and reports results for three main content areas:

Within each of the content areas, questions are designed to assess comprehension of economics in three cognitive categories:

  • Knowing: asks students to identify and recall information and to recognize economics terms and concepts. Questions in the Knowing category asked students to perform the following tasks:
    • recognize and recall information and concepts, and
    • interpret data and information to identify events or trends.
  • Applying: requires students to describe or explain the relationship between information and economic concepts (data, summaries, headlines, problems, and scenarios) and economic concepts. Items in the Applying category asked students to perform the following tasks:
    • restate an economic concept in their own words,
    • interpret data and information to identify events or trends and explain the cause,
    • analyze a given scenario or event that requires only one step in the analysis, and
    • apply or use a concept when the concept is specified.
  • Reasoning: measures students' ability to use information and economic concepts accurately to solve problems, evaluate issues, and interpret situations (data, summaries, headlines, problems, and scenarios) and economic concepts. Items in the Applying category asked students to perform the following tasks:
    • restate an economic concept in their own words,
    • interpret data and information to identify events or trends and explain the cause,
    • analyze a given scenario or event that requires only one step in the analysis, and
    • apply or use a concept when the concept is specified.

Recognizing that students acquire economics knowledge and skills inside and outside of school, the framework recommends that questions be set in various contexts:

  • Individual and Household questions focus on topics related to personal finance (i.e., earning, spending, saving, borrowing, and investing).
  • Business questions relate to entrepreneurs, workers, producers, and investors.
  • Public includes questions about government, policy, citizenship, and domestic and international organizations.

The amount of assessment time to be devoted to each of the three components is specified in the framework.

Explore Sample Questions booklets for the 2012 economics assessment. ​

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Last updated 17 June 2016 (TO)