Skip to main content
Skip Navigation
  • Home
  • Assessment Process

Assessment Process

The way assessments are created, given to schools, scored, and reported is complex and involves many phases and stages. The complexity ensures that the process meets the highest standards of measurement reliability, validity, and accuracy. The process continues to be modified to support the transition from paper-and-pencil to digitally based assessments.

Develop Assessment Questions

Using the frameworks developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, NAEP assessment questions (or items) are collaboratively developed and then reviewed by educators, parents, and experts for feedback and revision. Assessment items and questions are designed to collect information about educational experience. They are administered using survey questionnaires, which undergo an extensive development and review process.

Read about the three-phase process involved in developing assessment items. Read about design goals for assessments for 2002 and beyond.Learn about achievement levels.Read about the multi-step research-based development process involved in creating survey questionnaires. Read about the creation of assessments in the NAEP Technical Handbook: Methodology and Procedures.

Create the Assessment

Paper and pencil or digitally based assessments (DBAs) for assembled delivery to schools. Most assessments are piloted one year before they are finalized. Mathematics and reading assessments for grades 4 and 8 are typically piloted two years before they are finalized.

Select the Participants

NAEP provides assessment and survey results on student group achievement, group-level instructional experiences and school environment factors. These results are reported for the nation, states, and participating urban districts. Because NAEP reports group-level results, an accurate picture of student performance can be obtained by administering NAEP to a representative sample of students who reflect the student population of the nation as a whole as well as those of individual states and districts participating in the Trial Urban Districts Assessment (TUDA).

See how schools and students are selected.   

Prepare, Package, and Distribute the Assessment

NAEP coordinates the logistics of delivering the assessment, supporting material, and equipment for assessment day. The packaging and distribution of both paper-and-pencil and digitally based assessments involves packing and mailing assessment equipment and materials to NAEP assessment administrators. Packaging and mailing require the use of two systems: the materials distribution system and the online bundle-assignment and distribution system.

Learn more about packaging and distribution in the Technical Handbook: Methodology and Procedures

Administer the Assessment

The administration of the NAEP assessment to students across the nation is carried out by NAEP field staff and a NAP school coordinator. Students take the assessment in a 90-120 minute time allotment. Students, teachers, and school administrators complete survey questionnaires to provide context for student results.

Learn more about how assessments are administered.

Score the Assessment

First, NAEP electronically scans and scores responses to multiple-choice questions. Second, NAEP scans responses to constructed-response questions (items where students provide their own answers); uses trained scorers, and scoring guide, and an electronic image-processing scoring system to evaluate those responses.

Learn more about the scoring process.            

Prepare, Review, and Release the Results 

Assessment data undergoes an extensive process of analysis, preparation, and review before it's released to the nation in a formal web-based report with accompanying data tools.

Read about the analysis process.

Learn more about how data is released to the nation.


Last updated 21 May 2018 (AA)