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Civics

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) civics assessment is designed to measure the civics knowledge and skills that are critical to the responsibilities of citizenship in the constitutional democracy of the United States. The assessment is administered to students at grades 4, 8, and 12. The most recent civics assessment was given in 2018 to approximately 13,400 students in grade 8.

2018 Civics

Assessment Content

The civics framework recommends that the assessment be organized around three main components: knowledge, intellectual and participatory skills, and civic dispositions. The framework also outlines what civics knowledge and skills students should have to reach NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in a civics assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ learning experience in and out of the classroom.

How Civics Results Are Reported

Student performance on the NAEP civics assessment is reported in two ways: scale scores and NAEP achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the civics assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for the nation and groups of students based on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three NAEP achievement levels (e.g., NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced) that are defined in the assessment framework. Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. Note that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessments standards (e.g., by state or district assessments).

Item maps illustrate how specific civics knowledge and skills correspond to the NAEP achievement levels. Item maps answer the question, “What assessment questions were likely to be answered correctly by students performing at the NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement levels?”

How To Interpret Civics Results

Find out how to interpret the results of the civics assessment, including the potential effects of exclusion on assessment results.

Learn More


Last updated 14 April 2020 (FW)