The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is an ongoing assessment of what the nation's students know and can do in various academic subjects.
Also called the Nation's Report Card, NAEP provides estimates of student performance in several subjects at the national, state, and large-urban-district levels by testing a scientifically selected representative sample of students from each jurisdiction. NAEP results are calculated to permit comparisons over the course of several years of student performance among states and certain urban districts.
How to gather NAEP performance data
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) offers two handy tools for gathering assessment data NAEP.
The simpler tool, State Comparisons, allows users to compare all 50 states' test results with just a few clicks. Select the grade, subject, year(s), display options, and student group to compare, and results pop-up in a table. Results can be sorted by several variables, with statistically significant differences noted as applicable.
The more robust tool, NAEP Data Explorer,
is a dynamic database that lets users create custom queries to produce
statistical tables and graphics. The NAEP Data Explorer has three different
versions: main NAEP, long-term trend NAEP, and the High School Transcript
Study. A tutorial
helps users get oriented to all the features available with the NAEP Data
Queries that NAEP data tools can answer
NCES provides these online tools so that users can answer a multitude of research questions regarding student performance on NAEP:
- How do California students rank on 4th grade reading compared with other large states? (Use the State Comparisons tool.)
- Has there been any improvement in California students' performance in math over the past 10 years? Is that improvement statistically significant? (Use the NAEP Data Explorer.)
- How do California's English learners perform on the 8th grade reading assessment compared with English learners in other states? (Use the State Comparisons tool.)
Are there gaps in achievement among California's white, African American, Asian, and Latino students? (Use the NAEP Data Explorer.)
Points to remember
Because of NAEP's sophisticated test design, the National Center for Education Statistics and the California Department of Education urge caution when interpreting NAEP results. Researchers, parents, reporters, state policymakers, and other parties interested in analyzing, interpreting, and reporting NAEP data should keep the following "rules" in mind:
- NAEP scores should not be compared across test subjects or across test grades, but they can be compared over time or among states.
- Average scale scores represent how students performed on a test. Achievement-level results indicate how that performance measured up against set expectations for achievement.
- NAEP assesses student performance based on the knowledge and skills included in the NAEP frameworks, which is not necessarily aligned with what is taught in California's classrooms.
- NAEP results are estimates based on a representative sample of students.
- California's student demographics have an effect on the state's overall performance on NAEP. For greater accuracy, it is important to compare subgroup results with those of similar students in other states and the nation.
- Observed differences among years, subgroups, or states are not always statistically significant. NAEP data clearly indicate which results are significant and which are not.
- Student performance results on NAEP and on the California Standards Tests (CSTs) are not comparable outcomes. The two tests often assess different content and skills using different test formats. The two tests also use different methods to determine cut scores for proficiency.