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Digitally Based Assessments

Today’s students are digital natives. K-12 education classrooms are usually equipped with computers, and digital tools are an integral part of the learning environment. To address the increased role of technology in classrooms, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is transitioning the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from paper and pencil to digital assessments. NCES is utilizing established best practices for NAEP to remain at the forefront of innovation and a leader in large-scale assessments. NCES is also exploring new testing methods and question types to reflect the growing use of technology in education.

NAEP digital assessments, which are administered on tablets or laptop computers, use dynamic and innovative technologies to provide an engaging assessment experience for students and more meaningful data about students’ skills and knowledge for educators. With digitally based assessments, students are asked to receive, gather, and report information just as they do in their everyday lives. These new assessments include universal design principles, making it possible for more students to participate without special accommodation sessions. The goal is for all students to have a seamless assessment administration, regardless of their ability. These goals and more are highlighted in the "Going Digital: NAEP Assessments for the Future" video within this section.

What's Happening Now?

NAEP 2024During the 2024 school year, the NAEP schedule includes assessments in mathematics and reading at grades 4, 8, and 12 and science at grade 8. There will also be Pilot testing in mathematics and reading at grades 4 and 8, to help improve future NAEP assessments.
Map of the United States

Experience the 2024 Tutorials

NAEP digital assessments are administered on touch-screen devices that incorporate cutting-edge learning technologies. As part of each assessment, students are presented with a brief, interactive tutorial. The tutorial will teach them about the system and the tools available for use during the assessment.

To best replicate the experience of students on assessment day, please:

  • Access the tutorials with the Chrome browser*
  • Make sure that the browser is updated to the latest version
  • Use a device with an 11-inch or larger screen

View the 2024 Tutorials

View the 2022 tutorials for civics and U.S. history at grade 8.

* The tutorial experience is optimized for Chrome; however, the tutorials will load on other browsers.

Students with tablet.

Maintaining Trend

Maintaining trend lines (the ability to compare performance results from one year to another) is a priority. To do this, NAEP is using a multistep process to move from paper to digital technology to protect trend reporting. The process involves two stages of piloting before administering an operational digitally based NAEP assessment:

  • Stage 1. Adapt the paper-based questions for tablet delivery and pilot them in the same year as a main paper-based NAEP administration. Comparing results from paper and digitally based versions of the same assessment content will allow NAEP to establish a link between administration modes and help interpret performance trends across the transition from paper to digital delivery.
  • Stage 2. Develop new assessment questions and innovative question types and tasks that make use of digital technologies. This new digital assessment content will be gradually introduced into the assessment after first studying the effects of including these new items and item types.

NAEP Style Guide

The NAEP Style Guide provides information, guidance, and specifications for the presentation of student-facing user interface (UI) elements within NAEP’s digitally based assessments. The style guide also helps ensure a consistent experience for students and provides guidelines and specifications that dictate the visual styles and core behaviors of the student-facing user interface (UI) in the eNAEP digital assessment delivery platform.

The style guide is interactive, open sourced, and available to the public; and includes information and/or demonstrations of many of NAEP’s UI elements in:

  • Discrete items
  • Scenario-based tasks (SBTs)
  • Interactive item components (IICs)
  • Universal Design Elements and Tools
Learn More
Image of the NAEP Style Guide on a monitor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore frequently asked questions about the digitally based assessments. Download a PDFClick to open pdf. for printing.

Why did NAEP move to digitally based assessments?
How did NAEP leverage new technologies to measure and analyze the skills of a new generation of students?
What types of universal design features and accommodations are available for digitally based assessments?
Does NAEP have experience administering assessments using technology?
How are NAEP's digitally based assessments set up and administered in schools?
How does NAEP address differences in students' level of experiences with digital technology?
Why did some students take the NAEP mathematics and reading assessment in paper-and-pencil form in 2017?
What is the timeline for reporting 2017 reading and mathematics scores?
What special analyses are being conducted in 2017 to continue to report on student progress?
Have the NAEP frameworks and items changed since the test is being delivered digitally?
How does NAEP protect the personal information of students and schools?

Last updated 23 January 2024 (DS)