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More About NAEP Economics

The NAEP economics assessment results present a broad view of how well our nation’s students at grade 12 understand economics and have knowledge of the workings of domestic and international economics.

On this page, learn more about:

The NAEP economics 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 economics framework PDF File​​​​​​​ (3,349 KB) describes the assessment content and how students' responses are evaluated. This framework shaped the economics assessments in 2006 and 2012.

The assessment exercises and scoring criteria were developed by the NAEP Economics Committee and other measurement experts to capture the goals of the framework. The framework, which describes the goals of the economics assessment and what kind of exercises it ought to feature, was created by the National Assessment Governing Board through a national comprehensive developmental process involving teachers, curriculum coordinators, assessment experts, and members of the general public. The framework describes the types of questions to be included in the assessment, as well as how the questions should be designed and scored. The assessment measures and reports results for three content areas.

Within each of the content areas, questions are designed to assess economics in three content categories.

  • Knowing: asks students to identify and recall information and to recognize economics terms and concepts.
  • Applying: requires students to describe or explain the relationship between information and economic concepts.
  • Reasoning: measures students' ability to use information and economic concepts accurately to solve problems, evaluate issues, and interpret situations.

Recognizing that students acquire economics knowledge and skills inside and outside of school, the framework recommends that questions be set in various contexts.

See What Does the NAEP Economics Assessment Measure? for further information about the dimensions of the assessment, and see the amount of assessment time devoted to each of the areas specified in the framework.

Assessment question formats

The assessment consisted of both multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. Short constructed-response questions required students to respond in short answers that may vary from one or two words or phrases to several sentences. Extended constructed-response questions may require the application of an economics concept such as supply and demand, a detailed analysis, the synthesis or interpretation of data, and/or the projection of a trend.

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

The NAEP economics assessment uses questionnaires completed by students, teachers, administrators, and schools that are part of the sample. Responses to these questionnaires provide information about school policies affecting economics instruction, as well as information about schools' educational resources.


Number of students who took the assessment

The 2012 NAEP economics assessment was administered to twelfth-grade students throughout the nation. A nationally representative sample of 10,900 students in approximately 480 public and private schools across the nation were assessed.

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 students 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/or as English language learners (ELL). The decision to exclude any of these students is made by school personnel. See the types of accommodations permitted for students classified as SD or ELL.

See additional information about inclusion and accommodations for this assessment:

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.

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. Read more about the technical aspects of the NAEP sample design.

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.

Read the findings from the 2012 NAEP economics assessment.

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



Last updated 25 April 2013 (FW)