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NAEP Overview

An Introduction to NAEP. View Brochure. 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL). In 2017, NAEP began administering digitally based assessments (DBA) for mathematics, reading, and writing, with additional subjects to be added in 2018 and 2019.

NAEP: A Common Yardstick

Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a clear picture of student academic progress over time.

As NAEP moves into computer-based assessments, the assessment administration will remain uniform continuing the importance of NAEP as a common metric. Read more about the future of the NAEP assessment. 

What NAEP Does—and Doesn't—Report

NAEP provides results on subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., all fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students). NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools, although state NAEP can report results by selected large urban districts. NAEP results are based on representative samples of students at grades 4, 8, and 12 for the main assessments, or samples of students at ages 9, 13, or 17 years for the long-term trend assessment. These grades and ages were chosen because they represent critical junctures in academic achievement.

There are two NAEP websites: one dealing with the different components of the NAEP assessment and one presenting the results. When NAEP results are reported, they become part of "The Nation's Report Card." To find results from a particular assessment quickly, use the table at The Nation's Report Card website. Now, you can see NAEP results even on the go—download the NAEP Results Mobile App, for Android and iOS.

Who Runs NAEP?

The Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the Secretary of Education but independent of the Department, sets policy for NAEP and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the assessments. The Governing Board is a bipartisan group whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988. The NAEP assessment operations are carried out with assistance from contractors

NAEP Assessments: National, State, TUDA, and Long-Term Trend

National Assessments include many subjects, including mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history. These assessments follow the frameworks developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, and use the latest advances in assessment methodology. Each subject is assessed at grades 4, 8, and 12, although not all grades are assessed each time.

Four of these subjects (mathematics, reading, science, and writing) are reported also at the state level, usually for grades 4 and 8. For national assessments, students in public and private schools are assessed, but at the state level, assessment is in public schools only.

State assessments began in 1990; results for each participating state may be found using the State Profiles tool. The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is a multiyear study of the feasibility of a trial district-level NAEP in selected urban districts that is supported by federal appropriations authorized under the No Child Left Behind Act. The first TUDA took place in conjunction with the 2002 state NAEP reading and writing assessments. TUDA again took place in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, and 2015.

The long-term trend (LTT) assessments are given at the national level only, and are administered in a manner that is very different from that used for main NAEP assessments. LTT reports results in mathematics and reading that present trend since the 1970s, and are given every four years. Find out more about how the long-term trend assessments differ from the main assessments

How Do I Find Specific Information About NAEP?

How Do I Find...? Main Links Dig Deeper
Assessment Results

For recent findings: The Nation's Report Card or if on the go, the NAEP Results Mobile App 

For more about the findings for each report:

For detailed data and analysis: NAEP Data Explorer

For sample questions, state comparisons, and more: NAEP Data Tools

Read NAEP 2009 Year in Review to see the results reported in a state assessment year.

Participation Information

Information for Selected Schools

Learn why participation is important

The number of students who participated in NAEP assessments

Information for Private Schools

Inclusion of special needs students

Information for Students

Information for Parents

Read What Every Parent Should Know About NAEP.

Information for Educators 

General Information About NAEP

Frequently Asked Questions about NAEP

NAEP Activities

Calendar of NAEP assessments

Links to recently published materials

An Introduction to NAEP

An Overview of NAEP

The Nation's Report Card: 2007 At a Glance

Read about the future of NAEP for the next ten years and beyond.

Technical Information About the Assessment

An Overview of Technical Procedures for the NAEP Assessment

For full details of assessments since 2000: NAEP Technical Documentation

Information for Researchers

Assessment Frameworks for all subjects

Information About States and Districts

State Profiles Tool

Information about the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program 

State participation history 

View research comparing NAEP and state proficiency standards

NAEP Assessment Materials

Sample Questions Booklets

Student, teacher, and school questionnaires

The Questions Tool holds sample NAEP questions, student responses, and scorer comments

Special Studies and Reports

High School Transcript Study (HSTS)

National Indian Education Study (NIES)

Other special studies

Research reports using NAEP data

Database of all NAEP publications


Last updated 10 May 2017 (DS)