The instruments used in the NAEP mathematics assessment are composed of blocks of cognitive items from the previous NAEP assessment, as well as blocks that are newly developed for the current assessment. Administering the same blocks of items across years allows for the reporting of trends in mathematics performance. At the same time, developing new sets of items makes it possible to release some items for public use. In some assessment years, one or more blocks at each grade are released to the public and can be accessed via the NAEP Questions Tool.
The NAEP mathematics framework and specifications document guides the item development efforts. The NAEP mathematics framework for the 1990–2003 assessments was changed for the 2005–2007 assessments. Read more about the differences between the two frameworks. Items are written by NAEP item development staff, kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade teachers, and postsecondary teachers around the country. All assessment materials are reviewed by members of the Mathematics Standing Committee (see the current committee members), as well as other specialists in education and assessment development. For the 2003 and subsequent assessments, the cognitive items were assembled into 25-minute blocks containing a range of questions covering five mathematics content strands:
In 2000, the cognitive items had been assembled into 15-minute blocks containing a range of questions covering five mathematics content strands. A bridge study was conducted in 2002 to link scales from the new booklets to the existing scales.
Following approval from the National Center for Education Statistics, the blocks are assembled into booklets and distributed to schools for the administration of the assessment.