The Nation’s Report Card

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often referred to as the Nation’s Report Card is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subjects.

Its two major goals are to measure student achievement and to report a change in performance over time. Performance is reported by groups of students, for example, by gender, by different racial and ethnic groups, and by participation in special programs. NAEP does not provide results for individual students or for their schools. 

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.Each subject is assessed at grades 4, 8, and 12, although not all grades are assessed each time. Paper-and-pencil assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL). Beginning in 2017, NAEP will begin administering digitally based assessments (i.e., computer) for mathematics, reading, and writing, with additional subjects added in 2018 and 2019.

Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. The assessment stays essentially the same from year to year, with only carefully documented changes. This permits NAEP to provide a measurement of student academic progress over time.

The NAEP Questions Tool, located online at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/itmrls/, provides teachers, students, and parents with sample items from previous assessments. Additional NAEP materials, including assessment frameworks and item specifications, are available on the Oregon Department of Education (OD website at http://www.ode.state.or.us/go/naep/

What NAEP Reports

NAEP provides results on subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., all fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students). NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools, although state NAEP can report results by selected large urban districts. NAEP results are based on representative samples of students at grades 4, 8, and 12 for the main assessments, or samples of students at ages 9, 13, or 17 years for the long-term trend assessment. These grades and ages were chosen because they represent critical junctures in academic achievement.

There are two NAEP websites: one dealing with the different components of the NAEP assessment and one presenting the results. When NAEP results are reported, they become part of “The Nation’s Report Card.” To find results from a particular assessment quickly, use the table at The Nation’s Report Card website. Now, you can see NAEP results even on the go—download the NAEP Results Mobile App, for Android and iOS.

Who Runs NAEP

The Commissioner of Education Statistics, who heads the National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible by law for carrying out the NAEP project. The National Assessment Governing Board, appointed by the Secretary of Education but independent of the Department, sets policy for NAEP and is responsible for developing the framework and test specifications that serve as the blueprint for the assessments. The Governing Board is a bipartisan group whose members include governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Congress created the 26-member Governing Board in 1988. The NAEP assessment operations are carried out with assistance from contractors

Benchmark a USA High School Against World’s Best Schools

There was a time when middle-class parents in America could be — and were — content to know that their kids’ public schools were better than those in the next neighborhood over. Andreas Schleicher — who runs the global exam that compares how 15-year-olds in public schools around the world do in applied reading, math and science skills — as saying imagine, in a few years, that you could sign on to a Web site and see how your school compares with a similar school anywhere in the world. And then you could take this information to your superintendent and ask: “Why are we not doing as well as schools in China or Finland?”,That day has arrived, thanks to a successful pilot project involving 105 U.S. schools recently completed by Schleicher’s team at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which coordinates the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA test, and Jon Schnur’s team at America Achieves, which partnered with the O.E.C.D. Any high school in America will be able to benchmark itself against the world’s best schools, using a new tool that schools can register for at www.americaachieves.org. It is comparable to PISA and measures how well students can apply their mastery of reading, math, and science to real-world problems.The pilot study was described in an America Achieves report entitled “Middle Class or Middle of the Pack?.” The report compares U.S. middle-class students to their global peers of similar socioeconomic status on the 2009 PISA exams.

Finding the Scores

The NAEP website page entitled State Profiles presents key data about each state’s performance in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics, reading, writing, and science for grades 4 and 8. You can quickly see how a state performed over time, view a state’s demographics, download snapshot reports, and compare each state’s overall performance to the nation and each other. It is inappropriate to compare scores across subjects.

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) also has limited information about NAEP. The NAEP page on their website doesn’t give Oregon school test results but all the links (by year) direct you to the NAEP website. The NAEP website has test results going back from 1998 to the latest tests.

2016 Results for the Arts

Every NAEP assessment begins with a framework. In 1993, the National Assessment Governing Board convened a panel of arts educators, practicing artists, assessment specialists, and other stakeholders to create the NAEP Arts Education Assessment Framework. The framework identifies the skills and knowledge that eighth-graders should have in music and visual arts.

Average scores for eighth–graders were not significantly different between 2008 and 2016, nor were there significant differences in the percentages of students who reported taking music and/or visual arts classes. However, lower percentages of students reported engaging in some music or visual arts activities outside of school between 2008 and 2016. In addition, average scores differed by gender and regionally across the country in 2016. Students were assessed separately on responding to existing works of music and visual art and creating their own original artwork.

2015 Results for Math and Reading

The National Center for Education Statistics released results for the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in reading and math for grades 4 and 8 in early November 2015.

Oregon students remain at the national average in math and fourth-grade reading and above the national average in eighth-grade reading.

The Oregon Department of Education said the 2015 scores were not statistically different from the previous year the test was conducted in those subjects. In fourth-grade math, Oregon students earned a score of 238, compared to 240 in 2013, with a national average of 240. In fourth-grade reading, they earned 220, compared to 219, with a national average of 221.

In eighth-grade reading, Oregon children earned 268, the same as in 2013 and above the national average of 264. In math, eighth-graders scored 283, compared to 284 and a national average of 281.

The Oregon Department of Education has a document entitled 2015 NAEP Fast Facts that summarizes the 2015 test scores. 

StartClass ranked the states based on their performance on assessment test scores using data from NAEP. These results are for states from the 2015 reading and math assessments for Grades 4 and 8, both deemed critical junctures in academic achievement. Results for Grade 12 from 2015 from each state have not yet been released. Oregon ranked 28th. Percent of Oregon students at or above that were proficient:

  • Grade 4 Math: 37 percent
  • Grade 4 Reading: 34 percent
  • Grade 8 Math: 34 percent
  • Grade 8 Reading: 36 percent

Oregon’s average percent of students at or above proficient: 35.3 percent.

2014 Results for Math and Reading

With the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress data on May 7, 2014, every state is busy interpreting the “Nation’s report card” and figuring out what it means for its students and its education system. The Oregon data has some hopeful points and a few clear disappointments. In 2014, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the first-ever nationally representative assessment of technology and engineering literacy. Eighth-grade students were presented real-world scenarios involving technology and engineering challenges. Students were asked to respond to questions aimed at assessing their knowledge and skill in understanding technological principles, solving technology and engineering-related problems, and using technology to communicate and collaborate.

ECONorthwest’s assessment of the new data reveals the following:

  • 4th grade math:  Oregon’s average score hasn’t changed significantly, but the scores of students who receive Free and Reduced Price Lunch have improved. In addition, Oregon has converged with the nation overall and for a few subgroups (Free and Reduced Price Lunch, Black, and English Language Learner students). Oregon’s rank among states has improved a bit.
  • 8th grade math:  Oregon’s average score hasn’t changed significantly.  Scores for English Language Learners (ELL) have decreased. Also, compared to the nation, Oregon’s Hispanic and ELL subgroups underperformed in 2013 (no statistical difference in 2011). Oregon’s “rank” among states has not changed notably.
  • 4th grade reading:  There has been no significant change in scores overall or for subgroups. However, Oregon has converged with the nation overall, as has the ELL subgroup. Oregon’s “rank” among states has improved a bit.
  • 8th grade reading:  Oregon’ average score has increased by 4 points from 2011. ELL students have caught up with the national average.  ELL and the other subgroups have kept pace. Oregon’s “rank” among states has also improved slightly.
  • Unfortunately, overall there has been no statistically significant change in White-Black or White-Hispanic achievement gaps since 2011.
Source: “Oregon’s NAEP Results:  Disappointment and Resolve” by Sue Hildick, The Chalkboard Project. May 11, 2014.