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How Are NAEP Assessments Developed?

Introduction to Frameworks

Each NAEP assessment is built around an organizing framework, which is the blueprint that guides the development of the assessment instrument and determines the content to be assessed. The National Assessment Governing Board develops the NAEP frameworks.

Frameworks capture a range of subject-specific content and thinking skills needed by students in order to deal with the complex issues they encounter inside and outside their classrooms. The NAEP frameworks are determined through a framework development process that ensures they are appropriate for current educational requirements. Because the assessments must remain flexible to mirror changes in educational objectives and curricula, the frameworks must be forward-looking and responsive, balancing current teaching practices with research findings.

NAEP frameworks can serve as guidelines for planning assessments or revising curricula. These frameworks also can provide information on skills appropriate to the three grade levels and can be models for measuring these skills in innovative ways.

Developing a framework generally involves the following steps:

  • widespread participation and reviews by educators and state education officials;
  • reviews by steering committees whose members represent policymakers, practitioners, and members of the general public;
  • involvement of subject supervisors from education agencies;
  • public hearings; and
  • reviews by scholars in the field, by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) staff, and by a policy advisory panel.

Framework Overviews


Complete Framework

The following frameworks are available for viewing or download in HTML or PDF files, up to 3 MB in size.

Other frameworks and assessment specifications can be found on the Governing Board's website on the Frameworks and Specifications page. Read about design goals for assessments for 2002 and beyond. Learn how frameworks guide the development of assessment items, how achievement levels measure how well students' actual achievement matches the achievement desired of them in different subjects assessed by NAEP, and how items are scored using scoring guidelines developed in the frameworks. 

Contextual Information

In addition to testing cognitive abilities, NAEP collects non-cognitive information that helps to put student achievement in context. Three kinds of questionnaires provide context for NAEP assessment results: student, teacher, and school. Additional information is collected for SD or ELL students (students with disabilities or who are English language learners) on worksheets. Read more about the questionnaires and how they're developed.


Last updated 11 October 2017 (JM)