NAEP measures the U.S. history knowledge and skills of students in grades 4, 8, and 12. In 2018, NAEP administered the U.S. history assessment to students at grade 8. According to the U.S. History Framework (1.22 MB) developed by the National Assessment Governing Board, the assessment should be organized around three components: Themes in U.S. History, Periods of U.S. History, and Ways of Knowing and Thinking about U.S. History.
Four historical themes are the core organizing structure of the framework. The themes were intended to cover all major branches of historical study. The themes are also used to define the subscales for reporting the U.S. history assessment results; in other words, one can compare the performance among different population groups on each of the themes. The themes are as follows:
Eight chronological periods were used in developing the assessment to ensure appropriate chronological coverage. The periods focus attention on several major eras of U.S. history and overlap at times. The eight periods are as follows:
The two ways of knowing and thinking about U.S. history—the cognitive dimension of the assessment—were also used as a guide to develop questions. The two cognitive domains are as follows:
The U.S. history framework specifies the amount of assessment time to be devoted to the historical components of the assessment (historical periods and theme) and the amount of assessment time devoted to the cognitive components of the assessment (historical knowledge and perspective, and historical analysis and interpretation).
Sample Question booklets are available for download.
For more detailed information about the objectives of the U.S. history assessment, explore the U.S. History Framework (1.22 MB)