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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.

2018 U.S. History

Assessment Content

The U.S. history framework organizes the assessment around: themes, time periods, and ways of knowing and thinking about U.S. 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. 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’ learning experience in and out of the classroom.

How U.S. History Results Are Reported

Student performance on the NAEP U.S. history assessment is presented in two ways: scale scores and NAEP achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the U.S. history assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for the nation, states, and districts as well as and groups of students based on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • 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 (e.g., NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced) that are defined in the assessment framework. Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. Note 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 assessment questions were likely to be answered correctly by students performing at the NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement levels?”

How To Interpret U.S. History Results

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

Learn More

Last updated 23 April 2020 (DS)