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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

Florida National Assessment of Educational Prgress (NAEP)

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

NAEP Resource Links and Overview

NAEP Overview

Long considered the gold standard in assessment development, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only ongoing national assessment that measures what students in grade 4, 8, and 12 know and can do in several content areas. NAEP is a congressionally-mandated assessment and serves as an integral part of our nation's evaluation of the condition and progress of education. NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same set of test booklets across the nation. NAEP is conducted in 52 jurisdictions: 50 states, the Department of Defense Activity schools, and the District of Columbia Public Schools. Scores are reported for the nation and each of the 52 jurisdictions. Results are also available for 21 selected urban districts. The names of the students remain confidential and results for individual students and schools are not reported. NAEP is governed by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) and is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) which is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

State NAEP and TUDA are administered every two years, in odd-numbered years, in reading and mathematics to measure student performance and progress over time. Main NAEP is administered only at the national level in even-numbered years and is comprised of subjects such as U.S. history, economics, geography, and civics. The frameworks upon which the assessments are based change about every decade to reflect changes in curriculum in the nation's schools. New NAEP frameworks reflect these changes.

NAEP Reading measures a range of reading skills, from identifying explicitly stated information, to making complex inferences about themes, to comparing multiple texts on a variety of dimensions. Students respond to three types of questions: multiple choice, short answer (scored on a two- or three-point scale), and extended answer (scored on a four-point scale).

NAEP Mathematics focuses on numbers, measurement, geometry, probability and statistics, and algebra. Assesses basic skills and recall of definitions as well as problem solving and reasoning in all topic areas. Students respond to the following question types: multiple choice, short answer, and extended answer. There are three answer categories for constructed-response questions (right or wrong; right, partially right, or wrong; or extended constructed-response with several levels of partial credit, scored on a four- or five-point scale). Students may be asked to explain their work.

Students Sampled

Selected by grade (4, 8, and 12), students represent the nation and, in some assessments, their state and district. Providing state and district results means that far more students participate in NAEP, providing more detailed results. The number of schools and students selected for any state is typically in close proportion to the state's overall population.

Results Reported

NAEP provides results on performance and how performance has changed over time using scale scores and achievement levels (Basic, Proficient, and Advanced). Results have been produced for the nation.

NAEP assessments are used for the following:

  • measuring student achievement
  • gauging progress in education
  • tracking and reporting changes in achievement over time
  • reporting performance by subgroups, e.g., by gender, race/ethnicity, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and participation in exceptional education programs
  • making comparisons across states
  • making student group comparisons within a state, across states and regions, and within the nation
  • generating important discussions about education
  • evaluating the condition and progress of education
  • providing a “second opinion” of achievement on state assessments
  • analyzing data, such as determining if the gaps in achievement among various subgroups are narrowing, growing, or remaining the same

History of NAEP

Since NAEP began in 1969, it has conducted assessments in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, economics, and the arts. NAEP has reported national results for students in grades 4, 8, and 12—except for the Long-term Trend Assessment which is administered to students age 9, 13, and 17 on a four-year administration cycle.

Starting in 1990, NAEP began offering states an opportunity to receive state-level scores every two years at grades 4 and 8. States could volunteer to allow NAEP to select a large enough testing sample of schools and students within their state to achieve reliable and valid state scores. Prior to 2002, NAEP was administered by school personnel under the oversight of NAEP administrators. In 2002, NAEP field staff began administering the assessment with training and supervision by Westat, the contractor hired by NCES to administer the assessment. NAEP became mandatory for all states, Washington, D.C., and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools with the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Act, reauthorized as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Florida has participated every year in state NAEP since 1990 except for 2000 (the year the FCAT was expanded to include Grades 3–10). NAEP 2009 was the first year for which 11 states (including Florida) reported NAEP Grade 12 state-level results.

In 2002, NAEP administered the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in selected large urban school districts on a trial basis. Five large urban districts participated that year. The group was expanded to include nine districts in 2003, ten in 2005, 18 in 2009, and 21 in 2011. Miami-Dade County was one of the large urban districts added in 2009 and Hillsborough County (Tampa) was added in 2011. TUDA assessments occur in the same years as the state assessments (odd-numbered years). Results for the District of Columbia are reported at both the state- and district-level.

In order to report NAEP data, NAEP requires a participation rate of at least 85 percent of the sampled public schools in each state and at least 90 percent of all sampled students in each of the sampled public schools. NAEP also requires that the proportion of all students excluded from the assessment sample should not exceed 5 percent and 85 percent of students classified as either SD or ELL shall be included in the assessment. NAEP strives for high participation rates because low percentages of participation and response rates greatly reduce the amount of potentially useful information that can be reported.

The administration of NAEP is made possible through a collaborative effort between the federal government, the state government, individual school districts, and schools. Each state has a designated NAEP coordinator (NSC) who assists the federal government in the identification of schools and facilitates communication between the federal government and the schools.

Development of NAEP

The process of developing an assessment has many steps. For NAEP, these steps are:

  1. NAGB is responsible for developing the frameworks that describe the theoretical basis and objectives for the assessment of student performance in a particular academic subject.
  2. NAEP assessments are based on the frameworks. The frameworks are revised or replaced on a 10-year cycle to keep them in line with current instructional practices.
  3. The frameworks are designed with input from all states and jurisdictions that give assessments.
  4. Test specifications based on the frameworks provide guidelines for developing the test items.
  5. Subject-area specialists, state and local education agency representatives, teachers, parents, and representatives of professional associations are invited to attend and participate in the item reviews of items developed by the contractor.
  6. Assessment items undergo a bias and sensitivity review and are included in pilot and field tests prior to being included in a NAEP assessment.

NAEP is an assessment designed to show how well students know a body of information and can perform skills according to specified criteria. NAEP scores are reported as average scale scores and achievement levels based on the scale score cut points. Basic, Proficient, and Advanced are the three achievement levels developed by NAGB. A below Basic achievement level is for those students whose scores fall below the cut score for Basic. In addition to assessing achievement, NAEP collects background information pertaining to student, teacher, and school characteristics, instructional practices, and curricula.


A representative sample of grade 4, 8, and 12 students participate in NAEP. Each student takes only a portion of the assessment (approximately 10 percent). Results are then assembled to form projected national, state, and TUDA results. No results are generated for schools or individual students.


NAEP serves as an assessment of overall national, state, and TUDA achievement, not a diagnostic test for individual students. Results from NAEP are publicly available through NCES using the NAEP Data Explorer (NDE). The public can use the NDE to analyze results at the national level (grades 4, 8, and 12) and state levels (grades 4 and 8) with disaggregated achievement level estimates by student groups (gender, race/ethnicity, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, English language learners, and students with disabilities). This level of reporting is made possible through sophisticated school/student sampling techniques used by NCES/NAGB to represent the nation and individual states.


Beginning in 1998, all NAEP assessments permitted some accommodations for students with disabilities (SD) and English language learners (ELLs). Accommodations that would alter the knowledge and skills being assessed are not allowed by NAEP. An example of an accommodation not allowed by NAEP is the reading aloud of the reading assessment.

Decisions about accommodations and inclusion/exclusion of students in NAEP are based on:

  • the individual student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan.
  • the responses by school staff on worksheets listing all students with disabilities and/or each student classified as an English language learner selected for participation in NAEP.

State NAEP

State NAEP allows states to have a uniform measure to chart progress over time and compare their students’ achievement with those in other states having similar characteristics (e.g., population, geography, demographics). NAEP introduced state-level assessments in part because states’ individual assessments made comparisons difficult and states indicated an interest in receiving state-level NAEP results. Beginning in 2003, under NCLB, states were required to participate in NAEP Reading and Mathematics assessments in grades 4 and 8 every two years in order to receive federal Title I funding.

Only a sample of schools is chosen to participate in NAEP. Participants are selected through a scientific sampling method (systematic sampling with probability proportional to size). First, a representative sample of Florida public and private schools is selected. Secondly, individual students from the selected schools are randomly selected to be included in the NAEP sample. Approximately 10 percent of the nation’s grade 4 and 8 students are selected to participate in NAEP in the odd-numbered years. The sample selected for the even-numbered years, when NAEP is only a national assessment, is considerably smaller. No Florida officials or educators participate in the selection process.

The number of schools and students in Florida selected to participate in NAEP varies from year-to-year, depending upon the number of subjects to be assessed. A national sample of nonpublic (private) schools is also selected for grades 4, 8, and 12. NAEP requires administrative assistance from a designated school NAEP coordinator. The NAEP assessments are designed to minimize classroom intrusion, usually requiring less than 120 minutes of total administration time.

Florida’s State Profile can be found on the Nation’s Report Card Web site. The profiles present key data about each state’s student and school population and its NAEP testing history and results. The profiles also provide easy access to all NAEP data for participating states and links to the most recent state report cards for available subjects.

Two Types of “NAEP Years”

There are two types of NAEP years: (1) State and TUDA NAEP years and (2) Other NAEP years. Some activities change depending on the type of year.

Type 1: State and TUDA NAEP Years

Starting in 2003, the odd-numbered calendar years include state-level and TUDA-level NAEP reading and mathematics assessments as well as national NAEP assessments. Starting in 2005, NAEP included a third, non-mandated subject. In 2005 and 2009 the third subject was Science at grades 4, 8, and 12; in 2007 it was grade 8 Writing; and in 2011 it was grade 8 Science. The schedule was altered in 2011 to enable science to be administered in the same year as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), an international assessment.

Prior to 2009, assessments at grade 12 were national-only assessments and usually included some or all of the same subjects as those included for grades 4 and 8. In 2009, 11 states (including Florida) agreed to enlarge their grade 12 sample of schools to provide grade 12 state-level results in reading and mathematics.

Type 2: Other NAEP Years

The even-numbered calendar years since 2004 have been the years in which NAEP conducts national assessments (e.g., long-term-trend assessments in reading and mathematics). For example, the NAEP 2008 national assessment included the arts in grade 8, and the Long-term Trend Assessment (LTT) for students age 9, 13, and 17, and field tests in reading, mathematics, and science in grades 4, 8, and 12. The LTT is administered in the fall, winter, and spring, depending upon the age group being assessed. The arts assessment and field tests were administered during the regular NAEP assessment window, from the last week in January to the first week in March.


NSCs must communicate with a variety of stakeholders to promote understanding of NAEP. These stakeholders are seeking NAEP data to:
  • further the quality of their organization
  • demand accountability for performance results
  • better represent the diverse interests of a group of people
  • further professional or business interests

These groups include:

  • governors
  • commissioners of education
  • legislators
  • school boards (both local and state)
  • state chambers of commerce
  • teacher education programs
  • policymaker
  • media
  • principals and superintendents
  • the business community
  • parents
  • researchers
  • educators
  • students
  • state departments of education
  • school districts
  • curricular committees at the school, district, and state level
  • general public


The NAEP contact for the state of Florida is Michele Sonnenfeld. She can be contacted by email at or by telephone at 850-245-0513.