James Woodworth, PhD
Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics
NCES Commissioner’s Statement on 2018 NAEP U.S. History, Civics, and Geography Results
April 23, 2020
Today, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is releasing results on the performance of U.S. eighth-graders on the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessments in U.S. history, civics, and geography.
We observed three key patterns in the results of these assessments:
- Across all three subjects, a quarter or fewer of eighth-graders were at or above NAEP Proficient, while a quarter or more are below NAEP Basic. To give an example of what students at the NAEP Proficient level can do, students are able to explain the significance of people, places, events, ideas, and documents in American history (U.S. history); explain how and why legislative, executive, and judicial powers are separate, shared, and limited in American constitutional government (civics); and describe the physical and cultural characteristics of places and explain how places change due to human activity (geography).
- Declines in U.S. history and geography were particularly evident among our lowest performers. In both subjects, there were declines for the lowest-performing students—students at the 10th and 25th percentiles. These were the only declines we observed in the performance distribution in geography. Declines were also observed for students at the 50th and 75th percentile in U.S. history.
- Declines in U.S history were pervasive. There were declines across all four historical themes that were measured (Democracy; Culture; Technology; and World Role); across most of the performance distribution (every performance level except for students at the 90th percentile); and for various student groups—declines for both boys and girls and White, Black, and Hispanic students.
This statement highlights some of the major findings from the 2018 NAEP U.S. history, civics, and geography assessments. Many more details are provided in the full report
on these assessments, available at https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/. A full presentation of the findings will be made at 1:30 p.m. EDT during a live
event organized by the National Assessment Governing Board. You can join the event by registering at http://cloud.nagb-gov.org/april-release-2020.
I would like to thank all the students, teachers, and principals who volunteered their time to take these assessments. Without them, the NAEP program would not be possible.