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F or over 25 years, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has been the nation's primary indicator of student achievement, reporting on what students know and can do in various school subject areas at grades 4, 8, and 12. With legislation passed by Congress in 1988, NAEP's mission of providing dependable and comprehensive information about educational progress in the United States was expanded to involve a voluntary state-by-state assessment on a trial basis.
Consequently, the 1990 NAEP program included a Trial State Assessment Program in which public school students in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories were assessed in eighth-grade mathematics. Building on this initial effort, the 1992 NAEP program included a Trial State Assessment Program in fourth-grade reading and fourth- and eighth-grade mathematics, with public school students assessed in 41 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories.
The continuation of NAEP's Trial State Assessment Program in 1994 was authorized by additional legislation that enlarged the state-by-state assessment to include non-public school students:
The National Assessment shall conduct in 1994 . . . a trial reading assessment for the 4th grade, in states that wish to participate, with the purpose of determining whether such assessments yield valid and reliable State representative data. (Section 406(i)(2)(C)(i) of the General Education Provisions Act, as amended by Pub. L. 103-33 (U.S.C. 1221e-1(a)(2)(B)(iii)))The National Assessment shall include in each sample assessment . . . students in public and private schools in a manner that ensures comparability with the national sample. (Section 406(i)(2)(C)(i) of the General Education Provisions Act, as amended by Pub. L. 103-33 (U.S.C. 1221e-1(a)(2)(B)(iii)))
In addition to the state assessment program in reading at grade 4, the 1994 NAEP iinvolved national assessments of reading, geography, and history at grades 4, 8, and 12. The 1994 Trial State Assessment Program was conducted in February 1994 with the following 44 participants:
Jurisdictions in italics -- Montana, Washington, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) Overseas Schools -- did not participate in the 1992 Trial State Assessment Program. Two states -- Idaho and Michigan -- did not meet minimum school participation guidelines for public schools. Another jurisdiction -- Washington, DC -- withdrew from the Trial State Assessment Program after the data collection phase. Therefore, public school results for these three jurisdictions are not reported. Three jurisdictions -- Ohio, Oklahoma, and the Virgin Islands -- participated in the 1992 Trial State Assessment but not in the 1994 program.
For the 1994 Trial State Assessment in reading, a combined sample of approximately 2,800 public and non-public school students was assessed in most jurisdictions. The samples were carefully designed to represent the fourth-grade populations in the states or jurisdictions. Participating jurisdictions were responsible for the administration of the assessment. For jurisdictions that participated in the 1992 Trial State Assessment Program, contractor staff monitored 25 percent of public school sessions and 50 percent of non-public school sessions. For jurisdictions that did not participate in 1992, contractor staff monitored 50 percent of both public and non-public school sessions. Monitoring efforts were part of a quality assurance program designed to ensure that sessions were conducted uniformly.
The 1992 Trial State and National Assessment programs in reading were based on a framework developed through a national consensus process that was set forth by law and called for "active participation of teachers, curriculum specialists, subject matter specialists, local school administrators, parents, and members of the general public" (Pub. L. 100-297, Part C, 1988).7 This same framework served as the basis of the 1994 Trial State and National Assessment programs.
The process of developing the framework was carried out in late 1989 and early 1990 by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) under contract from the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) which is responsible for formulating policy for NAEP, including developing assessment objectives and test specifications. The framework development process included gathering input from a wide range of people in the fields of reading and assessment, such as school teachers, administrators, and state coordinators of reading and reading assessment. After thorough discussion and some amendment, the framework was adopted by NAGB in March 1990. An overview of the reading framework is provided in Appendix A.
The 1994 fourth-grade Trial State and National Assessments in reading consisted of eight sections or blocks, each 25 minutes in length. All fourth-grade students in the assessment were required to complete two blocks. Each block contained a passage or set of passages and a combination of constructed-response and multiple-choice questions. Passages selected for the assessment were drawn from authentic texts used by students in typical reading situations. Complete stories, articles, or sections of textbooks were used, rather than excerpts or abridgements. The type of question -- constructed-response or multiple-choice -- was determined by the objective being measured. In addition, the constructed-response questions were of two types: short constructed-response questions which required students to respond to a question in a few words or a few sentences and extended constructed-response questions which required students to respond to a question in a paragraph or more.
NCES 95-782 Ordering information
Last updated 5 April 2001 (PO'R)