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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

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The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest national assessment of American students' academic achievement and progress in various subject areas. The NAEP project collects and reports information on student performance at the national, state and local levels which is then used to evaluate the condition and progress of education in the nation. Information gathered on student performance is reported annually in the "Nation's Report Card."

The NAEP assessments consist of periodically conducted tests in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, and U.S. history. An assessment in Technology and Engineering Literacy​ (TEL) was added in 2014. In order to serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts, assessments must be administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation and, importantly, the assessment must remain essentially the same from year to year. The goal of the assessment is to provide clear information about student academic progress over time. The project does not collect information on individual students and their families, but only academic achievement data and related background information.[1]

The NAEP is a congressionally authorized project of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The Commissioner of Education Statistics is appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and is responsible for carrying out the NAEP project. In 1988 Congress approved the creation of the National Assessment Governing Board, whose members are appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The Governing Board operates independently of the Department, setting policy for NAEP and developing the framework and test specifications; it is a bipartisan group which includes governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Contractors assist in administering the NAEP assessment operations. A list of NAEP contractors can be found on the NCES website.[2][3]


Since at least the mid-19th century, reformers have sought to involve the federal government more in education, which has historically, constitutionally and financially been the province of the states. The desire for some standardized form of assessment of educational outcomes was deemed necessary to address the great disparities between regions and districts. The first Department of Education was created when Congress passed a bill introduced by Rep. James Garfield of Ohio in 1867.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established, at the city of Washington, a Department of Education, for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and manage­ment of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.[4][5]

This department mission of collecting and disseminating information was much more modest than reformers had hoped, but is still carried out by the NCES and IES. Although the department continued to collect statistics, and tried to encourage educational improvement, the federal role in education was not greatly increased until the 1950's when the Soviets launched Sputnik. This led to an increased focus on science and technology at the highschool level, but mainly affected graduate and research programs with the National Defense Education Act (NDEA).

Federal involvement in education grew rapidly during the 1960s under the Kennedy and then Johnson administrations. A Democratic Congress passed the historic Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, which pro­vided federal aid for disadvantaged students and more funding for federal research and development. The idea of a national assessment gained impetus in 1963 under the leadership of Francis Keppel, the U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1962 to 1965. "NAEP planning began in 1964, with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation to set up the Exploratory Committee for the Assessment of Progress in Education (ECAPE) in June. This was followed by the appointment of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in 1965."[6]

Some important dates

  • In 1968 the first national assessments were held.
  • In 1990 voluntary assessments for the states began on a trial basis.
  • In 2001 the No Child Left Behind Act, which reauthorized ESEA, (Public Law 107-110 Title I Part A, section 1111) required NEAP assessments to be carried out every two years in reading and mathematics in grades 4 and 8.[7]
  • In 2009, a new framework for the NAEP science assessment began a move to computer-based assessment.
  • In 2011 the NAEP writing assessment for grades 8 and 12 was administered entirely on computer.
  • In 2014 new NAEP technology and engineering literacy assessment was introduced, also entirely on computer.

See also

External links