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The Nation's Report Card: U.S. History 2010

June 2011

Author: National Center for Education Statistics

PDF Download The Nation's Report Card: U.S. History 2010 PDF for viewing and printing (9542K PDF)


The cover image of the NAEP 2010 U.S. History report card

Executive Summary

Lowest-performing fourth-graders make greatest gain from 1994

Average scores for eighth- and twelfth-graders increase from 1994

Percentages of fourth- and eighth-graders at or above Basic increase from 1994

Less than one-quarter of students perform at or above the Proficient level in 2010

No significant changes in percentage of students at Advanced

Examples of knowledge and skills demonstrated by students performing at each achievement level

Scores increase since 2006 for Black and Hispanic eighth-graders

Score for male eighth-graders increases since 2006

For the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history, students responded to questions designed to measure their knowledge of American history in the context of democracy, culture, technological and economic changes, and America’s changing world role. Nationally representative samples of more than 7,000 fourth-graders, 11,000 eighth-graders, and 12,000 twelfth-graders participated.

Lowest-performing fourth-graders make greatest gain from 1994

The average fourth-grade U.S. history score in 2010 was higher than in 1994. Some of the largest gains from 1994 to 2010 were made by the lowest-performing students with a 22-point increase at the 10th percentile. There was no significant change in the average score from 2006 to 2010.

Trend in fourth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores and percentile scores

Image of a graphic showing trend in fourth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores and percentile scores.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2010.
See complete data.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1994–2010 U.S. History Assessments.

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Average scores for eighth- and twelfth-graders increase from 1994

The average eighth-grade U.S. history score in 2010 was higher than in previous assessment years. As at grade 4, scores also increased from 1994 for lower-performing eighth-graders. The average twelfth-grade U.S. history score in 2010 was not significantly different from the score in 2006 but was higher than the score in 1994.

Trend in eighth- and twelfth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores

Image of two graphics showing trend in eighth- and twelfth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2010.
See complete data for grade 8 and grade 12.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1994–2010 U.S. History Assessments.

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Percentages of fourth- and eighth-graders at or above Basic increase from 1994

The NAEP Basic level denotes partial mastery of the knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at each grade. The percentage of fourth-graders at or above Basic did not change significantly from 2006 to 2010 but was higher in 2010 than in 1994. The percentage of eighth-graders at or above Basic in 2010 was higher than in previous assessments, and the percentage of twelfth-graders did not change significantly in comparison to earlier assessment years.

Trend in fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade NAEP U.S. history achievement-level results

Image of a graphic showing trend in fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade NAEP U.S. history achievement-level results.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2010.
See complete data for grade 4, grade 8, and grade 12.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1994–2010 U.S. History Assessments.

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Less than one-quarter of students perform at or above the Proficient level in 2010

The Proficient level represents solid academic performance. At grades 4 and 8, the percentages of students at or above Proficient in 2010 were not significantly different from the percentages in 2006, but were higher than the percentages in the first assessment in 1994. At grade 12, the percentage of students at or above Proficient was not significantly different from the percentages in previous assessment years.

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No significant changes in percentage of students at Advanced

The Advanced level represents superior performance. There were no significant changes in the percentages of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders at Advanced in comparison to 1994 or 2006.

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Examples of knowledge and skills demonstrated by students performing at each achievement level


Basic

  • Interpret a map about the colonial economy (grade 4).
  • Identify a result of Native American-European interaction (grade 8).
  • Understand the context of a women’s movement document (grade 12).

Proficient

  • Understand that canals increased trade among states (grade 4).
  • Identify a domestic impact of war (grade 8).
  • Understand Missouri statehood in the context of sectionalism (grade 12).

Advanced

  • Explain how machines and factories changed work (grade 4).
  • Explain two differences between plantations and small farms in antebellum South (grade 8).
  • Evaluate Civil War arguments (grade 12).

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Scores increase since 2006 for Black and Hispanic eighth-graders

At grade 8, increases since 2006 for Black and Hispanic students contributed to a narrowing of the score gaps between those groups and their White peers. There were no significant changes from 2006 to 2010 in the average scores for racial/ethnic groups at grades 4 and 12.

In comparison to 1994, scores were higher in 2010 for those racial/ethnic groups with samples large enough to report results at grades 4 and 8. At grade 12, scores for White, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander students were higher in 2010 than in 1994.

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Score for male eighth-graders increases since 2006

The average score for male students was higher in 2010 than in 2006 at grade 8, while there was no significant change for female students. In comparison to 1994, average scores were higher in 2010 for male students at all three grades and for female students at grades 4 and 8.

Image of a table showing U.S. History score increases in 2010 by grade and student group.

For complete overall data, see grade 4, grade 8, and grade 12.
For complete race/ethnicity data, see grade 4, grade 8, and grade 12.
For complete gender data, see grade 4, grade 8, and grade 12.

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Download the complete report in a PDF file for viewing and printing:

PDF The Nation's Report Card: U.S. History 2010 report PDF (9542K PDF)

NCES 2011-468  Ordering information


Suggested Citation
National Center for Education Statistics (2011). The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010 (NCES 2011–468). Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.

For more information, see the results of the 2010 U.S. History assessment on the Nation's Report Card website.

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Last updated 09 June 2011 (RH)
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