Comparison of NAEP and the CSTs
A side-by-side comparison of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the California Standards Tests (CSTs) illustrates how the design and administration of the two testing systems differ in fundamental ways. Differences in test content and structure, the students who are tested, and the way the tests report achievement are central to understanding what information each set of assessment results can provide.
|Overseeing Agency||U.S. Department of Education, with policy direction from the National Assessment Governing Board.||
California Department of Education, with oversight from the State Board of Education.
|Who is Tested||A sample of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 in public and private schools.||All public school students in grades 2-11, with few exceptions.|
|Subjects for Which There are Tests||Math, reading, writing, science, U.S. history, geography, arts, economics, civics, foreign language, and world history. (Frequency of administration varies.)||Math, English language arts, science (general as well as biology,
chemistry, physics, and earth science), and history/social studies.
|When Tests are Given
||Every year between January and March; every two years for state NAEP. (Exact testing window varies by state.)||
Every year in the spring when 85% of the instructional year is complete.
|When Testing Began||
"Long-term trend" NAEP began in 1969; voluntary state participation in "main" NAEP began in 1990.
The CSTs began reporting results in 2002-03.
|Achievement Levels||Four levels; advanced, proficient, basic, below basic.||Five levels; advanced, proficient, basic, below basic, far below basic.|
|Range of Possible Scores|| 0 to 500 (4th and 8th grade reading and math).
||150 to 600 (all the CSTs).|
|Required Participation Rate||States must test at least 85% of the schools selected for the sample.||Every school must test 95% of its students to meet federal requirements.|
|Structure of Test||Multiple-choice and constructed-response matrix-design test. (Each student takes a portion of the exam lasting 50 minutes.)||Multiple-choice only, except 4th and 7th grade writing. Each student takes the complete test, lasting 150 to 195 minutes.|
|Accountability||State-level results publicly reported. Results also reported for Los Angeles and for San Diego unified districts. No consequences or sanctions for performance.||Contributes to state accountability system (Academic Performance
Index). School- and district-level results publicly reported. Can lead
to sanctions under NCLB if the district receives federal Title I funds.
|Release of Results||National, state, and large-urban-district levels only.||
State, county, district, and school levels, with results publicly reported. Parents and schools receive student-level reports.
Data: California Department of Education (CDE)
For more information, please also see the following: