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Reading Assessment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment is given every 2 years to students at grades 4 and 8, and approximately every 4 years at grade 12. The most recent release of reading results was in 2015 for grade 12. The assessment measures reading comprehension by asking students to read selected grade-appropriate materials and answer questions based on what they have read. The results present a broad view of students’ reading knowledge, skills, and performance over time.

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Assessment Content

The reading framework specifies the use of three types of literary texts and three broad categories of informational texts which vary by grade. The framework also guides the collection and reporting of contextual information about students’ learning experience in and out of the classroom. The reading framework was updated in 2009 and replaced the framework used for the 1992-2007 reading assessments.

How is Your State or District Performing?

See snapshots of individual state and district performance in 2015 reading:

How Reading Results Are Reported

Student performance on the NAEP reading assessments is presented in two ways: scale scores and achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent how students performed on the reading assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported at the student group level for the nation, states, and districts.
  • Achievement levels show how student performance measures up against defined expectations for achievement. Achievement levels include Basic (partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge), Proficient (competency of challenging subject matter), and Advanced (superior performance).

Item maps illustrate how specific reading knowledge and skills correspond to different NAEP achievement levels. Item maps answer the question, "What does it mean for students to be at Basic, Proficient, or Advanced in terms of what they know and can do?"

How to Interpret Reading Results

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

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Explore Related NAEP Reading Studies

See the results of the 2002 oral reading study that was undertaken to discover how well the nation's fourth-graders can read aloud a typical grade 4 story.

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Last updated 12 March 2018 (AA)