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The NAEP Reading Achievement Levels by Grade

2009–2011 Achievement-Level Descriptions

1992–2007 Achievement-Level Descriptions

2009–2011 Achievement-Level Descriptions

Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 12

NAEP reading achievement-level descriptions present expectations of student performance in relation to a range of text types and text difficulty and in response to a variety of assessment questions intended to elicit different cognitive processes and reading behaviors. The specific processes and reading behaviors mentioned in the achievement-level descriptions are illustrative of those judged as central to students' successful comprehension of texts. These processes and reading behaviors involve different and increasing cognitive demands from one grade and performance level to the next as they are applied within more challenging contexts and with more complex information. While similar reading behaviors are included at the different performance levels and grades, it should be understood that these skills are being described in relation to texts and assessment questions of varying difficulty.

The specific descriptions of what students at grades 4, 8, and 12 should know and be able to do at the Basic,Proficient, and Advanced reading achievement levels are presented below. NAEP achievement levels are cumulative; therefore, student performance at the Proficient level includes the competencies associated with the Basic level, and the Advanced level also includes the skills and knowledge associated with both the Basic and the Proficient levels. The cut score indicating the lower end of the score range for each level is noted in parentheses.

The achievement-level descriptions were updated in 2009 to reflect the new reading framework. Although the descriptions have been updated, the scale score cut points remain the same. Achievement-level descriptions for 1992-2007 are below.

Grade 4

Basic
(208)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to locate relevant information, make simple inferences, and use their understanding of the text to identify details that support a given interpretation or conclusion. Students should be able to interpret the meaning of a word as it is used in the text.

Proficient
(238)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to integrate and interpret texts and apply their understanding of the text to draw conclusions and make evaluations.

Advanced
(268)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to make complex inferences and construct and support their inferential understanding of the text. Students should be able to apply their understanding of a text to make and support a judgment.


Grade 8

Basic
(243)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to locate information; identify statements of main idea, theme, or author's purpose; and make simple inferences from texts. They should be able to interpret the meaning of a word as it is used in the text. Students performing at this level should also be able to state judgments and give some support about content and presentation of content.

Proficient
(281)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to provide relevant information and summarize main ideas and themes. They should be able to make and support inferences about a text, connect parts of a text, and analyze text features. Students performing at this level should also be able to fully substantiate judgments about content and presentation of content.

Advanced
(323)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to make connections within and across texts and to explain causal relations. They should be able to evaluate and justify the strength of supporting evidence and the quality of an author's presentation. Students performing at the Advanced level also should be able to manage the processing demands of analysis and evaluation by stating, explaining, and justifying.


Grade 12

Basic
(265)

Twelfth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to identify elements of meaning and form and relate them to the overall meaning of the text. They should be able to make inferences, develop interpretations, make connections between texts, and draw conclusions; and they should be able to provide some support for each. They should be able to interpret the meaning of a word as it is used in the text.

Proficient
(302)

Twelfth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to locate and integrate information using sophisticated analyses of the meaning and form of the text. These students should be able to provide specific text support for inferences, interpretative statements, and comparisons within and across texts.

Advanced
(346)

Twelfth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to analyze both the meaning and the form of the text and provide complete, explicit, and precise text support for their analyses with specific example. They should be able to read across multiple texts for a variety of purposes, analyzing and evaluating them individually and as a set.



1992–2007 Achievement-Level Descriptions

Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 12  

Grade 4

Basic
(208)
Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should demonstrate an understanding of the overall meaning of what they read. When reading text appropriate for fourth-graders, they should be able to make relatively obvious connections between the text and their own experiences and extend the ideas in the text by making simple inferences.
Proficient
(238)
Fourth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to demonstrate an overall understanding of the text, providing inferential as well as literal information. When reading text appropriate to fourth grade, they should be able to extend the ideas in the text by making inferences, drawing conclusions, and making connections to their own experiences. The connection between the text and what the student infers should be clear.
Advanced
(268)
Fourth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to generalize about topics in the reading selection and demonstrate an awareness of how authors compose and use literary devices. When reading text appropriate to fourth grade, they should be able to judge text critically and, in general, to give thorough answers that indicate careful thought.

Grade 8

Basic
(243)
Eighth-grade students performing at the Basic level should demonstrate a literal understanding of what they read and be able to make some interpretations. When reading text appropriate to eighth grade, they should be able to identify specific aspects of the text that reflect overall meaning, extend the ideas in the text by making simple inferences, recognize and relate interpretations and connections among ideas in the text to personal experience, and draw conclusions based on the text.
Proficient
(281)
Eighth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to show an overall understanding of the text, including inferential as well as literal information. When reading text appropriate to eighth grade, they should be able to extend the ideas in the text by making clear inferences from it, by drawing conclusions, and by making connections to their own experiences—including other reading experiences. Proficient eighth-graders should be able to identify some of the devices authors use in composing text.
Advanced
(323)
Eighth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to describe the more abstract themes and ideas of the overall text. When reading text appropriate to eighth grade, they should be able to analyze both meaning and form and support their analyses explicitly with examples from the text; they should be able to extend text information by relating it to their experiences and to world events. At this level, student responses should be thorough, thoughtful, and extensive.

Grade 12

Basic
(265)
Twelfth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to demonstrate an overall understanding and make some interpretations of the text. When reading text appropriate to twelfth grade, they should be able to identify and relate aspects of the text to its overall meaning, extend the ideas in the text by making simple inferences, recognize interpretations, make connections among and relate ideas in the text to their personal experiences, and draw conclusions. They should be able to identify elements of an author’s style.
Proficient
(302)
Twelfth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to show an overall understanding of the text which includes inferential as well as literal information. When reading text appropriate to twelfth grade, they should be able to extend the ideas of the text by making inferences, drawing conclusions, and making connections to their own personal experiences and other readings. Connections between inferences and the text should be clear, even when implicit. These students should be able to analyze the author’s use of literary devices.
Advanced
(346)
Twelfth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should be able to describe more abstract themes and ideas in the overall text. When reading text appropriate to twelfth grade, they should be able to analyze both the meaning and the form of the text and explicitly support their analyses with specific examples from the text. They should be able to extend the information from the text by relating it to their experiences and to the world. Their responses should be thorough, thoughtful, and extensive.


Last updated 23 December 2011 (NB)
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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education