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More About NAEP Civics

The NAEP civics assessment presents a broad view of how the nation’s students are learning the essential knowledge and skills of democratic citizenship and government.
On this page, learn more about: 

The NAEP civics framework

The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the development of NAEP frameworks that describe the specific knowledge and skills to be assessed in each subject. Frameworks incorporate ideas and input from subject area experts, school administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents, and others. The NAEP Civics Framework  (803 KB) describes the assessment content and how students' responses are evaluated. This framework shaped the 1998, 2006, 2010, and 2014 civics assessments.

The assessment exercises and scoring criteria were developed by a committee of civics educators and curriculum experts to capture the goals of the framework. The framework, which describes the goals of the civics assessment and what kind of exercises it ought to feature, was created by the Board through a comprehensive national process involving educators, researchers, measurement experts, administrators, and members of the general public. The NAEP Civics Standing Committee was instrumental in developing the assessment, guided by the framework.

The framework describes the types of texts and questions to be included in the assessment, as well as how the questions should be designed and scored. The framework recommends that the assessment should be organized around three main components:

Intellectual and participatory skills
Civic dispositions

See “What Does the Civics Assessment Measure?” for descriptions of these components, and see the distribution of civics questions by content area.

Assessment question formats

The 2014 assessment was administered at grade 8 and consisted of multiple-choice questions, designed to address the full range of knowledge and skill areas outlined in the civics framework document; and constructed-response questions consisting of both short- and extended-free response questions.

To learn more, see civics assessment questions in the NAEP Questions Tool.

NAEP also gives questionnaires to teachers, students, and schools that are part of the NAEP sample. Responses to these questionnaires give NAEP information about school policies affecting civics instruction, as well as information from schools about educational resources.


Number of students who took the assessment

The NAEP 2014 civics assessment was administered nationally at grade 8. Approximately 9,100 grade 8 students in about 410 schools were assessed. See details about participation rates and about sample size and target population.

The NAEP program does not, and is not designed to, report on the performance of individual students. Instead groups of the student population from representative national samples are assessed. For example, NAEP reports results for male and female students, Black and White students, and students in different regions of the country. Students are selected using a complex sampling design.

Permitted accommodations 

NAEP has always endeavored to assess all students selected as a part of its sampling process, including students who are classified by their schools as students with disabilities (SD) and English language learners (ELL). The decision to exclude any of these students is made by school personnel.
Find inclusion and accommodations information for this assessment:

View the percentages of SD and ELL students identified, excluded, and assessed in civics.  
The types of accommodations permitted and their rates of use

Assessment sample

NAEP assesses representative samples of students rather than the entire population of students. The sample selection process utilizes a probability sample design in which each school and each student has a known probability of being selected (the probabilities are proportionate to the estimated number of students in the grade assessed). Samples are selected according to a complex multistage design, with students drawn from within sampled public and private schools nationwide. See a diagram of sample selection for NAEP state assessments for a non-technical overview of the sampling process.

The Common Core of Data (CCD) file, a comprehensive list of operating public schools in each jurisdiction that is compiled each school year by NCES, served as the sampling frame for the selection of public schools in each state/jurisdiction.

The Private School Survey (PSS), a survey of all U.S. private schools carried out biennially by the Census Bureau under contract to NCES, served as the sampling frame for private schools.

View the national target populations for the NAEP 2010 civics assessment.
View the student and school participation rates.

Because each school that participated in the assessment, and each student assessed, represents only a portion of the larger population of interest, the results are weighted to make appropriate inferences between the student samples and the respective populations from which they are drawn. Sampling weights are adjusted for the disproportionate representation of some groups in the selected sample. This includes oversampling of schools with high concentrations of students from certain racial/ethnic groups and the lower sampling rates of students who attend very small schools. 

Additional resources

Learn more about NAEP, the nation's largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what students know and can do in core subjects.

Explore NAEP civics results in the 2014 Civics Report Card.

Explore the most recent NAEP results in any subject on the website of The Nation’s Report Card.


Last updated 21 April 2015 (FW)