Skip Navigation
small NCES header image

The Nation's Report Card: Civics 2006

May 2007

Authors:   Anthony Lutkus and Andrew R. Weiss

Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing.


Cover image of The Nation's Report Card: Civics 2006 report

Executive Summary

The 2006 NAEP civics assessment evaluated students’ understanding of the democratic institutions and ideals necessary to become informed citizens in shaping America’s future. Students demonstrated this knowledge in areas deemed important for citizenship in our constitutional democracy. A nationally representative sample of more than 25,000 students at grades 4, 8, and 12 was assessed in 2006. The results are compared with those of the 1998 civics assessment.

About two out of three American students at grades 4, 8, and 12 have at least a basic knowledge of civics according to the 2006 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Average scores improved from 1998 to 2006 only at grade 4. Most of this improvement was seen among lower-performing students.

Three of four students at grade 4, or 73 percent, scored at or above Basic, meaning they demonstrated at least a partial mastery of civics knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade. About one in four students, or 24 percent, scored at or above the Proficient level, meaning they demonstrated at least competency over challenging subject matter. Many fourth-grade student groups had higher scores in 2006.

  • White, Black, and Hispanic students improved.
  • Both male and female students improved.
  • Lower-performing students made gains.
  • The performance gap narrowed for Hispanic students compared to White students.

 What students know about civics

 Fourth-graders
 75% knew that only citizens can vote in the U.S.
 41% identified the level of government that signs peace treaties
 14% recognized that defendants have a right to a lawyer
 Eighth-graders
 80% identified a notice for jury duty
 63% determined an instance of abuse of power
 28% explained the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence
 Twelfth-graders
 72% analyzed a historical text on the importance of education
 50% identified the outcome when state and national laws conflict
 43% described the meaning of federalism in the U.S.

Overall, eighth-graders’ knowledge of civics has not changed since the 1998 assessment. Of eighth-graders, 22 percent scored at or above the Proficient level, and 70 percent scored at or above Basic. White and Hispanic students showed score gains.

Twelfth-graders, tomorrow’s voters, performed at about the same level in 2006 as they did in 1998. No student group showed a statistically significant increase. Twenty-seven percent of twelfth-graders scored at or above the Proficient level, and 66 percent scored at or above Basic.

Achievement level graphic showing the percentage at or below Basic, at or below Proficient, and at Advanced, respectively for grades 4, 8, and 12 in the 1998 and 2006 NAEP Civics assessment. At grade 4, 1998 was 69*, 23, and 2 and 2006 was 73, 24, and 1. At grade 8; 1998 was 70, 22, and 2 and 2006 was 70, 22, and 2. At grade 12, 1998 was 65, 26, and 4, and 2006 was 66, 27, and 5.

* Significantly different from 2006.

Back to Top


Download sections of the report (or the complete report) in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

NCES 2007-476 Ordering information

Suggested Citation
Lutkus, A., and Weiss, A. (2007).The Nation’s Report Card: Civics 2006 (NCES 2007–476). U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

For more information, see the results of the 2006 Civics assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

Back to Top


Last updated 02 May 2007 (RF)

Would you like to help us improve our products and website by taking a short survey?

YES, I would like to take the survey

or

No Thanks

The survey consists of a few short questions and takes less than one minute to complete.
National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education