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Development of the Mathematics Cognitive Items and Instruments

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The instruments used in the NAEP mathematics assessment are composed of blocks of cognitive items from the previous NAEP assessments, as well as blocks that are newly developed for the current assessment. Administering the same blocks of items across years allows for the reporting of trends in mathematics performance. At the same time, developing new items makes it possible to release some items for public use. In some assessment years, one or more blocks at each grade are released to the public and can be accessed via the NAEP Questions Tool.

The NAEP mathematics framework and specifications documents guide the item development efforts. A new framework was introduced for 2009 containing changes only at grade 12; other than some minor reorganization, the 2009 framework for grades 4 and 8 remained largely unchanged from 2005. The framework for the 2011 assessments was the same as that used in 2009. Read more about the differences between the frameworks

Assessment items are written by NAEP item development and teachers from across the country. All assessment materials are reviewed by members of the Mathematics Standing Committee (see the current committee members), as well as other specialists in education and assessment development. The cognitive items are assembled into 25-minute blocks containing a range of questions covering five mathematics content strands:

  • number properties and operations;
  • measurement;
  • geometry;
  • data analysis, statistics, and probability; and
  • algebra.

Following approval from the National Center for Education Statistics, the blocks are assembled into booklets and distributed to schools for the administration of the assessment.

Click here for more information about what the NAEP mathematics assessment measures.

Last updated 14 July 2014 (GF)