The instruments used in the NAEP reading assessment are composed of blocks containing reading passages and items from previous NAEP assessments, 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 reading 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 publicly released and can be accessed via the NAEP Questions Tool.
The NAEP reading framework and specifications document guides the item development efforts. Items are written by NAEP item development staff and reviewed by members of the Reading Standing Committee (see the current committee members). All assessment materials are reviewed by specialists in reading education, measurement, assessment development, and bias. The cognitive items are assembled into 25-minute blocks, each containing a range of questions covering three contexts for reading:
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.