The NAEP long-term trend assessment was developed to give information on the changes in the basic achievement of America's youth. It has been used to monitor trend lines since 1971 in reading and 1973 in mathematics for students at ages 9, 13, and 17.
The long-term trend assessments had originally included writing and science, but in 1999, the National Assessment Governing Board discontinued the assessment in writing for technical reasons. In 2004, The Board decided that changes were needed to the design of the science assessment and, given recent advances in the field of science, to its content. As a result, the science long-term trend assessment was not administered in 2003-2004.
The discontinuation of the writing and science trend assessments provided an opportunity to modify the NAEP long-term trend assessments to reflect current assessment designs and practices. Consequently, a number of changes were implemented in 2004 to revitalize the long-term trend assessments. The changes implemented in 2004 were intended to reflect changes in NAEP policy, maintain the integrity of the long-term trend assessments, and increase the validity of the results obtained.
Changes to the assessment instruments included
Because it was important to know that any changes in assessment results could be attributed to actual changes in student performance rather than to changes in the assessment, a special bridge study was conducted to evaluate how the change to the assessment design and administration procedures would affect assessment results.
The separate student questionnaire, created for the bridge study, provided context for the results as had the non-cognitive questions in previous long-term trend assessments. This questionnaire was presented to students as an intact form in the revised assessment, whereas in the original assessment given in 2004, and in all assessment years prior, these questions were interspersed with the cognitive items. In addition, the questionnaire given to the students taking the revised assessment was shorter, as some of the previously administered questions were eliminated because they appeared intrusive or outdated or were no longer supplying useful data for the analyses. Note that for the long-term trend assessment, there are no teacher or school questionnaires.