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Organization and Governance

Congressionally Mandated National Assessment Program

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is congressionally mandated as a part of the Education Sciences Reform Act (ESRA)and is overseen and administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. Also known as The Nation’s Report Card, NAEP has provided important information about how students are performing academically since 1969. The National Assessment Governing Board, an independent body appointed by the Secretary of Education, sets NAEP policy.

ESRA(P.L. 107-279) is the governing statute of NAEP. This law stipulates that NCES develops and administers NAEP and reports NAEP results. Under the law, the Governing Board is given responsibility for setting the assessment schedule, developing the frameworks that provide the blueprint for the content and design of the assessment, and setting achievement levels.

Responsibilities of NCES

The Commissioner of Education Statistics leads NCES within the U.S. Department of Education and is legally responsible for carrying out NAEP. NCES oversees and implements key operations of the assessment. NCES is mandated to administer NAEP, collect and analyze information and statistics in a manner that meets the highest methodological standards, maintain data credibility through its assessment design, collection, analysis, release, and dissemination procedures, and many other responsibilities as outlined in the ESRA.

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The National Assessment Governing Board

Duties of the board include the following:

  • selection of assessment subjects for administration;
  • development of student achievement levels;
  • development of assessment objectives and specifications that reflect current professional standards;
  • assessment reviews that involve active participation of teachers, curriculum specialists, local school administrators, parents, and the public;
  • design of assessment methodology to ensure that assessment items are valid and reliable;
  • measurement of student academic achievement in grades 4, 8, and 12;
  • development of guidelines for reporting and disseminating results;
  • development of standards and procedures for regional and national comparisons;
  • acting to improve the form, content, use, and reporting of results of any assessment; and,
  • planning and execution of the initial public release event of NAEP reports.
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The Commissioner meets with the Governing Board routinely to coordinate NAEP duties and activities. The Commissioner also shares with the Governing Board actions that the Department of Education has made in relation to advice from the Governing Board.

Last updated 20 February 2024 (AA)