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The NAEP U.S. History Achievement Level Details

Grade 4
Grade 8
Grade 12

Specific definitions of the Basic, Proficient, and Advanced achievement levels for grades 4, 8, and 12 are presented in the tables that follow. The achievement levels are cumulative. Therefore, students performing at the Proficient level also display the competencies associated with the Basic level, and students at the Advanced level also demonstrate the skills and knowledge associated with both the Basic and the Proficient levels. For each achievement level listed, the scale score that corresponds to the beginning of that level is shown in parentheses.

Grade 4

Basic
(195)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to identify and describe a few of the most familiar people, places, events, ideas, and documents in American history. They should be able to explain the reasons for celebrating most national holidays, have some familiarity with the geography of their own state and the United States, and be able to express in writing a few ideas about a familiar theme in American history.

Proficient
(243)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to identify, describe and comment on the significance of many historical people, places, ideas, events, and documents. They should interpret information from a variety of sources, including texts, maps, pictures, and timelines. They should be able to construct a simple timeline from data. These students should recognize the role of invention and technological change in history. They should also recognize the ways in which geographic and environmental factors have influenced life and work.

Advanced
(276)

Fourth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should have a beginning understanding of the relationships between people, places, ideas, events and documents. They should know where to look for information, including reference books, maps, local museums, interviews with family and neighbors, and other sources. They should be able to use historical themes to organize and interpret historical topics, and to incorporate insights from beyond the classroom into their understanding of history. These students should understand and explain the role of invention and technological change in history. They should also understand and explain the ways in which geographic and environmental factors have influenced life and work.

 

Grade 8

Basic
(252)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to identify and place in context a range of historical people, places, events, ideas, and documents. They should be able to distinguish between primary and secondary sources. They should have a beginning understanding of the diversity of the American people and the ways in which people from a wide variety of national and cultural heritages have become part of a single nation. Eighth-grade students at the Basic level should also have a beginning understanding of the fundamental political ideas and institutions of American life and their historical origins. They should be able to explain the significance of some major historical events.

Proficient
(294)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should be able to explain the significance of people, places, events, ideas, and documents, and to recognize the connection between people and events within historical contexts. They should understand and be able to explain the opportunities, perspectives and challenges associated with a diverse cultural population. They should incorporate geographic, technological, and other considerations in their understanding of events and should have knowledge of significant political ideas and institutions. They should be able to communicate ideas about historical themes while citing evidence from primary and secondary sources to support their conclusions.

Advanced
(327)

Eighth-grade students performing at the Advanced level should recognize significant themes and movements in history and begin to understand particular events in light of these themes and movements. They should have an awareness of continuity and change over time and be able to draw relevant analogies between past events and present-day situations. They should be able to frame questions about historical topics and use multiple sources to develop historical generalizations and interpretations. They should be able to explain the importance of historical themes, including some awareness of their political, social, and economic dimensions.

 

Grade 12

Basic
(294)

Twelfth-grade students performing at the Basic level should be able to identify the significance of many people, places, events, dates, ideas, and documents in U.S. history. They should also recognize the importance of unity and diversity in the social and cultural history of the United States, and have an awareness of America’s changing relationships with the rest of the world. They should have a sense of continuity and change in history and be able to relate relevant experience from the past to their understanding of contemporary issues. They should recognize that history is subject to interpretation and should understand the role of evidence in making an historical argument.

Proficient
(325)

Twelfth-grade students performing at the Proficient level should understand particular people, places, events, ideas, and documents in historical context, with some awareness of the political, economic, geographic, social, religious, technological, and ideological factors that shape historical settings. They should be able to communicate reasoned interpretations of past events, using historical evidence effectively to support their positions. Their written arguments should reflect some in-depth grasp of issues and refer to both primary and secondary sources.

Advanced
(355)

Twelfth-grade students achieving at the Advanced level should demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of events and sources of U.S. history. Recognizing that history is subject to interpretation, they should be able to evaluate historical claims critically in light of the evidence. They should understand that important issues and themes have been addressed differently at different times and that America’s political, social, and cultural traditions have changed over time. They should be able to write well-reasoned arguments on complex historical topics and draw upon a wide range of sources to inform their conclusions.

 

Last updated 08 December 2006 (JM)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education