The process of developing achievement levels involves the judgments of informed, well-qualified people from throughout the nation and its territories. Approximately 20 persons served on each of three grade level panels to develop NAEP mathematics achievement levels. These 60 people included teachers (about 55 percent), other educators (about 15 percent), and members of the general public (about 30 percent). To the extent possible, the panels were proportionally representative of the nation's population with respect to region, race/ethnicity, and gender.
The panels for mathematics were convened in March 1992, and the National Assessment Governing Board set the mathematics NAEP achievement levels in September 1992. The achievement levels set for the mathematics assessment were used in reporting results for the 1992 assessment and subsequent assessments. These were used until the Board determines that a new framework was needed to guide the development of the assessment. At that time, new achievement levels may be developed and set. Two reports provide details on the mathematics achievement levels:
The complete descriptions of the mathematics achievement levels and cut scores are available on this website.
Appendix F of the 1996 NAEP Technical Report (900KB) (Allen, Carlson and Zelenak 1999) provides detailed information related to the process for developing the achievement levels, selecting exemplar items, evaluating and validating the levels, mapping the levels onto the NAEP scale, as well as panel meeting participants and affiliations.
At the November 2001 meeting of the Board, a revised framework for the NAEP mathematics assessment was adopted. Changes at the fourth and eighth grades were minor, so that the scales used to report the results for those grade levels from 1992 to 2003 were used again in the next mathematics assessment in 2005. At the twelfth grade, however, changes that were more extensive were made. Because of this and the resulting changes in the questions developed for the twelfth grade, a new scale was developed for the 2005 assessment. As a result, the Board developed new achievement levels for the twelfth-grade mathematics assessment in 2005.
In the spring of 2004, a large-scale field test of the new 2005 twelfth grade mathematics assessment was conducted on a nationally representative sample of students. The 2005 scale was developed from the resulting data, and the Board intends to develop the new achievement levels for this assessment using these field test data. The revised framework and test specifications for grade twelve mathematics focused on developing a more challenging grade twelve assessment. The intent was to increase the level of mathematics content measured by NAEP at grade twelve based on state standards and international measures.
NOTE: As provided by law, the achievement levels are to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted with caution. However, both NCES and the Board believe that these performance standards are useful for understanding trends in student achievement.