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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 Results

Assessment Content

The geography assessment measures the knowledge of world 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. The geography assessment is administered as a digitally based assessment. 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’ K-12 education and learning experience in and out of the classroom.

How Geography NAEP Results Are Reported

Academic achievement in geography is reported in two ways on The Nation's Report Card: 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 anddiverse student groups 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 15 July 2021 (AA)