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​How Were the NAEP Long-Term Trend Assessments Developed?

The NAEP long-term trend (LTT) assessment was developed to monitor changes in the achievement of America's youth. It has been used to monitor student performance since 1971 in reading and since1973 in mathematics for students at ages 9, 13, and 17.

The LTT assessments originally included writing and science, but in 1999, the National Assessment Governing Board discontinued the assessment in writing for technical reasons. In 2004, The Board decided that changes were needed to the design of the science assessment and, given recent advances in the field of science, to its content. As a result, the LTT science assessment was discontinued beginning with the 2003-2004 administration.

The discontinuation of the writing and science trend assessments provided an opportunity to modify the NAEP long-term trend assessments to reflect more current assessment designs and practices. Consequently, a number of changes were implemented in 2004 to revitalize the long-term trend assessments. The changes implemented in 2004 were intended to reflect changes in NAEP policy and to increase the validity of the results obtained, while maintaining the integrity of the long-term trend assessments.

Changes to the assessment instruments included

  • removal of science and writing items,
  • inclusion of students with disabilities and English learners,
  • replacement of items that used outdated contexts,
  • creation of a separate questionnaire PDF File Click to open pdf. ,
  • elimination of "I don't know" as a response option for multiple-choice questions, and
  • use of assessment booklets that pertain to a single subject area (previously, a single assessment booklet may have contained both reading and mathematics items).

In 2004, a special study was conducted to evaluate the potential impact of the changes to the assessment design and administration procedures; both the original and the revised formats of the LTT assessments were administered to ensure comparability of the results.

A separate student questionnaire was created for the bridge study to provide context for the results as had the non-cognitive questions in previous long-term trend assessments. This questionnaire was presented to students as an intact form in the revised assessment format, whereas in the original assessment format administered in 2004, as in all prior assessment years, these questions were interspersed with the cognitive items. In addition, the intact questionnaire given to the students taking the revised assessment was shorter, as some of the previously administered questions were eliminated because they appeared intrusive or outdated or were no longer supplying useful data for the analyses.

Explore the differences between main NAEP and long-term trend NAEP.

Last updated 15 February 2024 (JM)