Each National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment is built around an organizing framework, which is the blueprint that guides the development of the cognitive assessment items and determines the content to be assessed. The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the creation of the NAEP frameworks, while the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) oversees the development of the assessment instruments. The instruments created for each assessment consist of two major components:
non-cognitive items, also referred to as contextual items, which collect information from students, teachers, and school administrators about background variables that are related to student achievement.
The Governing Board and NCES begin with a developmental process and continue with extensive reviews by multiple groups. The Governing Board also oversees the development of the content framework and item specifications for background items. Contextual items are developed through a process similar to that used for developing the cognitive items. The process includes reviews by external advisory groups and field testing. Information from the contextual items gives context to NAEP results and/or allows researchers to track factors associated with academic achievement.