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NAEP Instruments → Cognitive Items and Instruments → Development of the Reading Cognitive Items and Instruments

Development of the Reading Cognitive Items and Instruments

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The instruments used in the NAEP reading assessment are composed of blocks containing reading passages and items from both previous NAEP assessments, as well as blocks that are newly developed for the current assessment year. 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 blocks to the public. In recent assessment years, two or more blocks at each grade have been released and can be accessed via the NAEP Questions Tool.

The NAEP reading framework and the specifications documents guide the item development efforts. In 2009, a new reading framework was introduced, thus the items used in the 2009 reading assessment were all newly developed. In 2011, this framework continued to guide assessment development of new blocks of items to replace those released after the 2009 assessment.

Items in the reading blocks 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, accessibility, and bias. The cognitive items are assembled into 25-minute blocks, each containing a range of questions aligned to one of three cognitive targets for reading:

  • locate/recall,
  • integrate/interpret, and
  • critique/evaluate.

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.

In 2009, a trend study was performed to determine whether the results of the 2009 reading assessment could be compared to those from earlier assessment years, thereby maintaining the trend lines established in 1992. The 2011 assessment continues this trend line.

Click here for more information about what the NAEP reading assessment measures.

Last updated 15 July 2014 (GF)
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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education