The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) arts assessment measures students' knowledge and skills in the arts by asking them to observe, describe, analyze, and evaluate works of music and visual art and to create original works of visual art. The most recent arts assessment was given in 2016 to approximately 8,800 students in grade 8. About one-half of eighth-grade students were assessed in music (4,300 students), and the other half were assessed in visual arts (4,400 students).
The arts assessment framework specifies that students’ academic achievement in art be measured in four disciplines: dance, music, theater, and visual arts. In 2008 and 2016, NAEP assessed students in music and visual arts. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in an arts assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ K-12 education experience in and out of the classroom.
Academic achievement in arts is presented in two ways on The Nations's Report Card: scale scores and NAEP percentiles:
Scale scores represent how students performed on the arts assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for diverse student groups for the nation, states, and districts.
Percentiles show score results for students performing at lower (10th and 25th percentiles), middle (50th percentile), and higher (75th and 90th percentiles) levels on the reporting scale.
Item maps illustrate how specific arts knowledge and skills correspond to the 25th and 75th NAEP percentiles. Item maps answer the question, “What assessment questions were likely to be answered correctly by lower- and higher-performing students?"