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​Parents and Guardians

The Nation's Report Card: It's More Than Just a Test

Our children take tests for everything, but the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—also called The Nation’s Report Card—is unique.

The Nation’s Report Card is a resource—a national wakeup call—because it offers a window into the state of our education system and what our children are learning. The results provide educators, policymakers, elected officials, and parents across the country with invaluable information regarding how our children are doing compared to other children in participating large urban districts, other states, and the nation.

When our children participate, they are helping to inform decisions about how to improve education in your state and in our country. The participation of your child can and often does lead to change.

NAEP Sparks Change Across the Country



In Connecticut, NAEP survey questionnaire data revealed that grade 12 African American and Hispanic students were less likely than their White and Asian/Pacific Islander peers to take advanced mathematics courses. These data informed early efforts to address uneven opportunity to learn and reduce achievement gaps. Today, Connecticut’s accountability system includes an expectation that all students have the chance to experience challenging coursework in high school.



NAEP survey questionnaire data showed that eighth- and twelfth-grade students in Iowa were less likely than their peers across the country to take advanced mathematics courses. This information led the Statewide Mathematics Leadership Team—a team of district and regional educators focused on supporting mathematics instruction, assessment, and professional development—to take action to encourage higher levels of mathematics enrollment across Iowa.



To address the state’s growing economy and workforce needs, Oregon referenced grade 4 NAEP mathematics data to shape a STEM Education Plan in 2016. This plan was established to develop important science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills for students of all races, economic status, and regions.

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit, Michigan

In 2009, the NAEP assessment revealed that Detroit schoolchildren ranked the lowest in the nation in both grades 4 and 8. In response to the alarming results, The Detroit Free Press partnered with the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) to create and implement a new reading initiative, The Call to Action for a new Reading Corps, which encouraged citizens to volunteer 100,000 hours collectively to tutor reading in DPS schools.

North Carolina

North Carolina

In 2005, results from the NAEP reading assessment revealed that eighth grade students in North Carolina scored below the national average. In response, the state deployed more than 200 literacy coaches to middle schools around the state to help teachers reach students with reading difficulties before they made the transition to high school.

Why Is Your Child's Participation Important?

Every year, the nation depends on students just like your child to participate in NAEP. Not all students take the assessment; your child was selected to represent hundreds of students across the country. To make sure that NAEP results report just how much our children and their peers know and can do, it's essential that they participate in the assessment and try their best.

What Do You Need to Know?

If your child is participating in NAEP, your child’s school will send you a letter with details and information about the assessment. Here is what you need to know.

  • Not every student or school takes the test.
  • Your child’s grades aren’t affected! Results are anonymous.
  • The test requires 90-120 minutes to minimize time away from instruction.
  • The test is administered on tablets provided by NAEP and sometimes on paper-and-pencil or laptop computers.
  • If your child takes the test on a tablet, your child will complete a tutorial on how to use the tablet before taking the test.
  • Accommodations are provided so that as many students as possible can participate.
  • Survey questionnaires are voluntarily completed by students, teachers, and school administrators. Student survey questionnaires ask your child about their educational experiences and opportunities to learn both in and out of the classroom.
  • Questionnaire responses are anonymous and cannot be linked to your child’s identity or personal information.
  • The subjects most frequently tested are mathematics, reading, science, and writing
  • NAEP is often called the gold standard of assessments and has been around since 1969.

What Can Your Child Expect During a Digitally Based Assessment?

During testing, all necessary equipment (tablets, ear buds, and administrative equipment) will be provided by NAEP. The only resources a school will need to provide are space, desks or tables, and electricity. Your child will learn about how to use the tablet and enter their responses by viewing a short tutorial. Questionnaire used to capture the learning experiences or your child both in and out of the classroom will also be administered on tablets.

Learn More

What Do NAEP Results Tell Us About Education?

Compared to 1998, the first year of the civics assessment, the average score for eighth-graders increased by 4 points in 2014.
Explore The Nation's Report Card.

NAEP reports provide more than just results in school subjects and grades.

  • You can see how students have performed over time, including by racial/ethnic groups and gender.
  • You can learn which states are closing achievement gaps, and see whether your state is making progress.
  • You can find out how coursetaking and grades of America’s most recent high school graduates lead to graduation, and see if our children are prepared for the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about what NAEP means for your student? Check out the most frequently submitted questions or download a PDF for printing.

Why is this the first time I am hearing about NAEP?
When will my child take the test?
Does NAEP replace the state tests that my child takes every year?
Why doesn't NAEP test in every grade?
How was my child selected?
Does my child have to take NAEP?
Will taking NAEP affect my child's grade?
Will I get to see the results of my child's test?
How long does the assessment take?
Will my child's teacher spend class time helping students get for NAEP?
Where can I see the test my child will take?
May my child with disabilities participate in NAEP if her IEP doesn't specifically address NAEP?
Will my child be able to take NAEP if English is not my child's first language?
May my child take NAEP if he or she was not selected?
Where can I get additional information?
What if I want to make suggestions about the assessment?

Last updated 09 January 2020 (AA)