The NAEP reading assessment measures the reading and comprehension skills of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 by asking them to read selected grade-appropriate passages and answer questions based on what they have read.
National Assessment Governing Board oversees the development of NAEP frameworks, which describe the specific knowledge and skills that should be assessed. Frameworks incorporate ideas and input from subject area experts, school administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents, and other citizens. A new framework was implemented for the 2009 reading assessment, replacing the framework first used for the 1992 reading assessment and subsequent reading assessments through 2007. The framework that has guided assessment development since 2009 was used to guide development of the 2017, 2019, and 2022 digitally based assessments. Results from special analyses determined the 2009 and subsequent reading assessment results could be compared with those from earlier assessment years. These special analyses started in 2007 and included in-depth comparisons of the frameworks and the test questions, as well as a close examination of how the same students performed on the 2009 assessment and the earlier assessment.
The development of the NAEP reading framework was guided by scientifically-based reading research that defines reading as a dynamic cognitive process that allows students to
For more detailed information about the objectives of the reading assessment, explore the NAEP Reading Framework.
The NAEP reading framework specifies the use of both literary and informational texts. Literary texts include three types at each grade: fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry. Informational texts include three broad categories: exposition; argumentation and persuasive text; and procedural text and documents. The inclusion of distinct text types recognizes that students read different texts for different purposes.
The framework recommends that assessment questions be aligned to cognitive targets—mental processes or kinds of thinking that underlie reading comprehension. The targets are described below.
The framework also calls for a systematic assessment of vocabulary. Vocabulary questions measure students' knowledge of specific words as used in the passages they are asked to read for the assessment. To answer these questions, students integrate their understanding of the word with their passage comprehension. All vocabulary questions are multiple-choice and are classified as Integrate/Interpret. Vocabulary questions appeared in two types of sections: comprehension sections and vocabulary-only sections. Two vocabulary questions appeared in the comprehension sections along with other kinds of questions; vocabulary-only sections contained five or six vocabulary questions.
See the distribution of questions in the 2022 assessment.
The 1992–2007 framework specified that the NAEP assessment should measure three contexts for reading: reading for literary experience, reading for information, and reading to perform a task (reading to perform a task at grades 8 and 12 only). In addition to reading within different contexts, NAEP reading comprehension questions were developed to engage the different approaches that readers may take in the process of trying to understand what is being read. The table below outlines the major aspects of the framework.
|Three different contexts for reading were assessed:||Students were assessed on four different aspects of reading:|
1Reading to perform a task is not assessed at grade 4.
The framework for the 2009 NAEP reading assessment replaced a framework developed for the 1992 assessment. Compared to the previous framework, the 2009 reading framework includes more emphasis on literary and informational texts, a redefinition of reading cognitive processes, a new systematic assessment of vocabulary knowledge, and the addition of poetry to grade 4. The table that follows outlines the differences.
|1992–2007 Reading Framework||2009 Reading Framework|
|Content||Content of assessment:
||Content of assessment:
|Cognitive Processes||Stances/aspects of reading:
||Cognitive targets distinguished by text type:
|Vocabulary||Vocabulary as a "target" of item development, with no information reported on students' use of vocabulary knowledge in comprehending what they read||Systematic approach to vocabulary assessment with potential for a vocabulary subscore|
|Poetry||Poetry included as stimulus material at grades 8 and 12||Poetry included as stimulus material at all grades|
|Passage Source||Use of intact, authentic stimulus material||Use of authentic stimulus material plus some flexibility in excerpting stimulus material|
A 2009 reading trend study was conducted to compare results based on the 2009 and 2007 reading assessment instruments. Trend studies, also known as "bridge studies", have been used by NAEP previously to evaluate how changes to the assessment impact score comparisons.