As established in 2002, the sample design for the 2003 state assessment integrated the state sample into the national sample directly, rather than drawing a separate sample of schools and students for the two surveys. For fourth and eighth grades, the base national main public school samples served as the state public school samples for each jurisdiction. Similarly, the NAEP state student samples and assessments became the NAEP national main student samples and assessments as well.
The 2003 national main assessment in mathematics and reading was designed to achieve a nationally representative sample of public and private school students in the fourth and eighth grades. Its target population included all students in public and private schools who were enrolled in fourth or eighth grade at the time of assessment. The selected samples were based on a two-stage sample design:
The 2003 state assessment examined fourth- and eighth-grade students in public schools. A representative sample of public school students was drawn in each participating jurisdiction, which included states, District of Columbia, U.S. territories, Bureau of Indian Affairs schools, Department of Defense schools, and school districts chosen for the Trial Urban District Assessment study. Each sample was designed to produce aggregate estimates with approximately equal precision for all the participating jurisdictions, as well as estimates for various student populations of interest.
School samples for twelfth grade were selected for pilot testing assessment items, but not for an operational, reportable sample of twelfth grade in 2003.