Skip to main content
Skip Navigation


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) geography assessment presents a broad view of what our nation’s students know and can do in geography. The assessment is administered to students at grades 4, 8, and 12. The most recent geography assessment was given in 2018 to approximately 12,900 students in grade 8.

2018 Geography

Assessment Content

The geography assessment measures the knowledge of geography in three content areas (space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections) and three cognitive areas (knowing, understanding, and applying). The framework also outlines what geography knowledge and skills students should have to reach NAEP BasicNAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in a geography assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ learning experience in and out of the classroom.

How Geography Results Are Reported

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

  • Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the geography 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., state or district assessments). 

Item maps illustrate how specific geography 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 Geography Results

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

Learn More

Last updated 14 April 2020 (FW)