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Parents' Frequently Asked Questions About NAEP

What is the NAEP Assessment?

What will participation in NAEP mean for my child?

How can I get more information, ask questions, or make comments?


What is the NAEP Assessment?

What is NAEP?

NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is often called the "Nation's Report Card." It is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP is congressionally mandated, and was first administered in 1969 to measure student achievement nationally. Teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States. Learn more about NAEP and its history of educational assessment.

Does NAEP replace the state tests that my child takes every year?

No. Most state tests measure student performance using the state's own curriculum standards (i.e., what the state considers important for its students to know). State tests enable the comparison of results over time within the state, but because state tests are created according to each state's individual curriculum standards, they do not allow comparisons of results with other states or the nation.

NAEP asks the same questions and is administered in the same way in every state nationwide, providing a common measure of student progress and making comparisons between states possible. NAEP helps states answer such questions as:

  • How does the performance of students in my state compare with the performance of students in states with similar resources or demographics?
  • How does my state's performance compare with the nation's?
  • Are my state's gains in student performance keeping up with the pace of improvement in other states?

While the two assessment types differ in substantial ways, state tests and NAEP work together to give educators and policymakers a comprehensive picture of student performance.

Learn more about the comparisons between NAEP and state assessments and find out about your state's participation history and performance in NAEP in the State Profiles Tool.

Why is this the first time I have heard of NAEP?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is usually referred to as "NAEP" during the preparation for and administration of the assessment. Once the results have been processed and compiled into the results that are presented to the public, it is known as The Nation’s Report Card. Because of this different terminology, many people who have never been involved in the assessment may never have heard of NAEP, even if they have heard of the Nation’s Report Card.

Why doesn't NAEP test every grade?

NAEP tests small samples of students at grades 4, 8, and 12 for the main assessments, and at ages 9, 13, or 17 for the long-term trend assessments. These specific three grades and ages represent critical junctures in academic achievement. Limiting the assessment to three ages provides valuable data while limiting the testing burden on schools.

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What will participation in NAEP mean for my child?

How was my child selected? Is it really a random selection?

Your child was randomly selected to participate as a representative of students in your state who attend schools with similar characteristics. The schools selected to participate in NAEP are representative of the demographic and geographic composition of the state as a whole. In a typical state, about 100 schools are selected for grade 4 assessment and 100 schools for grade 8 assessment.

Your child was selected from a list of all students in his/her grade in the school, including the students with special needs. The NAEP staff selects students from this list by using a statistically valid randomization process. Neither a student’s class performance nor a school’s standing within the district or state has any bearing upon selection for the assessment. Because NAEP does not report scores for individual schools or their students, there should be no internal pressure to select certain students or schools for assessment.

Please read on for information about the selection of students with disabilities or English Language Learners.

Does my child have to take NAEP?

No. Unlike your state's assessment, which is mandatory for students, NAEP is voluntary. However, your child was selected as a representative for hundreds of students within your state. If all selected students participate, NAEP provides a very accurate measurement of your state's overall composition and achievement. Please note however, that in some states, all state testing, including NAEP, is mandatory.

Learn more about why your participation in NAEP is important.

Will my child's answers be kept confidential?

Yes, it is against federal law to identify any student participating in the assessment. Since the first NAEP assessment in 1969, students names have been kept completely confidential. After students complete the assessment, their names are physically removed from the booklets and never leave their schools. Instead of reporting individual scores, NAEP combines all student responses to provide information on the performance of demographic groups of students. NAEP reports overall results for the nation, the states, and for groups of students, such as males and females.

Will taking NAEP affect my child's grade?

No. NAEP does not calculate scores for individual students, so neither the government nor your child's school or teacher will ever know how your child performed on NAEP.

Will I get to see the results of my child's test?

No. There are no individual student results. However, if you would like to explore the results for students in various subjects, check out the wide variety of NAEP data tools—including State Profiles—that allow you to view the NAEP results from many different angles.

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How long does the NAEP assessment take?

Students spend up to 90 minutes participating in the administration of most NAEP assessments. This includes setting up, taking the assessment (up to 60 minutes), and getting back to instructional activities. Some specialized assessments, such as hands-on science tasks or computer-based assessments, may require up to 120 minutes from beginning to end.

There is no penalty for not completing the assessment in the time permitted. A student may stop taking the assessment or omit questions at any point.

Will my child's teacher spend class time helping students get ready for NAEP?

No. Special preparation for NAEP is not necessary or expected. The material in the assessment was carefully designed to encompass those topics that should already be a part of the general curriculum for grades 4, 8, and 12. Since many states have linked their content standards to NAEP, some teachers may use materials from NAEP to support instruction of their state curriculum.

Where can I see the assessment that my child will take?

Booklets containing sample test questions and all background questions are available on the NAEP website. In addition, more than two thousand released NAEP questions are online in the easy-to-use NAEP Questions Tool.

These sources provide you with a very good picture of the assessment that your child may take. However, you may arrange to see the actual test questions on this year's assessment in a secure location. To view assessment questions that have not yet been made public, please contact your NAEP State Coordinator, whose name can be found through your state's profile, or send a written request to the National Assessment Governing Board either by e-mailing NAGB@ed.gov or by mailing to:

National Assessment Governing Board
800 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 825
Washington, D.C. 20002-4233.

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May my child with disabilities participate in NAEP? Her IEP does not specifically address NAEP.

The decision to include students with disabilities in NAEP assessments is made by school personnel, who decide whether students can meaningfully be assessed with or without accommodations based on information in a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Generally, children who are included in the state or local testing program are included in NAEP, if they are selected.

Special-needs students use the same accommodations in NAEP assessments that they use in their usual classroom testing, with very few exceptions. Some of the most common NAEP accommodations for students with disabilities are large-print books, extended time, small-group or one-on-one testing, oral reading of directions, and use of an aide for transcribing responses. For more detail, see Inclusion of Special-Needs Students.

Please contact your NAEP State Coordinator, whose name can be found in your state's profile, for state-specific guidelines.

English is not my child's native language. Will he be able to take NAEP?

Probably. NAEP needs to be as inclusive as possible. The decision to include English language learners in NAEP is made by school personnel, who decide whether students can meaningfully be assessed with or without accommodations. Generally, if your child is able to participate in state and local tests, he or she will be able to take NAEP.

Accommodations may be allowed. One of the most common accommodations for students classified as English language learners (ELL) is extended time to answer assessment questions. If you would like to have additional information about NAEP, please visit the website at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard. If you have questions or would like to review a booklet that includes sample subject area and student questions, please contact your school's principal. 

 

May my child take NAEP if he or she was not selected?

No. Through a careful process, NAEP selects the smallest number of students possible that are needed to represent your state and the nation fairly and accurately. This procedure minimizes the expenditure of time and effort by participants and administrators, while still allowing NAEP to obtain an accurate and useful measure of student performance.

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How can I get more information, ask questions, or make comments?

Where can I get additional information?

If you are looking for information that you have not been able to find on this website, or on The Nation's Report Card, submit a question or comment to us via Contact NAEP. On the Contact NAEP page, you will also find directions that will guide you to answers to commonly asked questions.

What is the schedule for NAEP?

National Assessment of Educational Progress
Schedule of Assessments and Reports
 

Assessment Administration Period National Assessments
(grades 4, 8, and 12, unless indicated)
State and TUDA Assessments
(grades 4 and 8 only, unless indicated)
Results Released in the Nation's Report Card1  
January-March 2014 Civics (8)  -- Summer 2015 
January-March 2014​ Geography (8)​ --​ ​Summer 2015​​​
January-March 2014​ U.S. History (8)​ --​ Summer 2015​
January-March 2014​ Technology and Engineering Literacy (8)​ --​ Spring 2015​
January-March 2014​ Science Pilots​ --​ Summer 2015​

1 TUDA assessments are only administered in mathematics, reading, science, and writing.

This assessment schedule is based on conservative estimates of costs and anticipated appropriations.

See a schedule of NAEP assessments from the first assessments in 1969 through those scheduled for 2017.

What if I want to make suggestions about the assessment?

Your suggestions are welcomed because they help us improve NAEP to better serve the children and teachers who give their time in taking the tests. Your questions also help NAEP provide the best information possible to state education leaders, the U.S. Department of Education, and Congress. Your comments can be made through Contact NAEP, by contacting your NAEP State Coordinator (find your coordinator in the NAEP State Profiles), or by contacting Sherran Osborne in the Department of Education at sherran.osborne@ed.gov.

We hope that these resources will address any questions or concerns you may have. If, however, you do not feel that your concerns have been adequately resolved, you may file a formal complaint by writing to the National Assessment Governing Board. Send e-mail to NAGB@ed.gov or mail the National Assessment Governing Board at:

National Assessment Governing Board
800 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 825
Washington, D.C. 20002-4233.

Include a description of your complaint, along with your name and your mailing address. The National Assessment Governing Board will send you a letter in the mail acknowledging receipt of your complaint. It will then be considered through a formal review process. At the conclusion of this process, you will be sent a written response by mail. For more information on the NAEP complaint review process, read Policies and Procedures for Complaints Related to the National Assessment of Educational Progress PDF File (42 KB).

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Last updated 07 January 2014 (AA)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
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