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U.S. History

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. history assessment is designed to measure students’ knowledge of U.S. history in the context of democracy, culture, technological and economic changes. The most recent U.S. history assessment was given in 2018 to approximately 16,400 students in grade 8.

Assessment Content

The U.S. history framework organizes the assessment around: themes, time periods, and ways of knowing and thinking about American history. The framework also outlines what U.S. history knowledge and skills students should have to reach NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement. The U.S. history assessment is administered as a digitally based assessment. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in a U.S. history assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ K-12 education and learning experience in and out of the classroom.


Icons representing each NAEP assessment subject in arts, civics, economics, geography, reading, mathematics, technology and engineering literacy, science, U.S. history, and writing.

How Results Are Reported

Academic achievement in U.S. history is presented in two ways on The Nations's Report Card: scale scores and NAEP achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent how students performed on the U.S. history assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for diverse student groups for the nation, states, and districts.
  • NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do.

Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three NAEP achievement levels (NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced). Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).

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

Computer monitor displaying icons of data and charts.

Last updated 07 September 2022 (DS)