National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

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National Center for Education Statistics

These data are not available from ICPSR. Users should consult the data owners (via National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)) directly for details on obtaining these resources.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in elementary and secondary schools in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. Assessments are conducted periodically in mathematics, reading, science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, United States history, and beginning in 2014, in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL). Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the United States, 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 clear picture of student academic progress over time and for teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers to use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States. For more information, please read An Introduction to NAEP.

There are two types of assessments: main NAEP and long-term trend NAEP. Main NAEP is administered to fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders across the United States in a variety of subjects. The Main NAEP is conducted between the last week of January and the first week in March every year. National results are available for all assessments and subjects. Results for states and select urban districts are available in some subjects for grades 4 and 8. The Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) is a special project developed to determine the feasibility of reporting district-level NAEP results for large urban districts. In 2009 a trial state assessment was administered at grade 12. Long-term trend NAEP is administered nationally every four years. During the same academic year, 13-year-olds are assessed in the fall, 9-year-olds in the winter, and 17-year-olds in the spring. Long-term trend assessments measure student performance in mathematics and reading, and allow the performance of students from recent time periods to be compared with students since the early 1970s.

For example, the 1997 and 2008 NAEP arts assessments were part of the Main NAEP Assessments. The NAEP 1997 Arts Assessment was conducted nationally at grade 8. For music and visual arts, representative samples of public and nonpublic school students were assessed. A special "targeted" sample of students took the theatre assessment. Schools offering at least 44 classroom hours of a theatre course per semester, and offering courses including more than the history or literature of theatre, were identified. Students attending those schools who had accumulated 30 hours of theatre classes by the end of the 1996-97 school year were selected to take the theatre assessment. The NAEP 2008 Arts Assessment was administered to a nationally representative sample of 7,900 eighth-grade public and private school students. Approximately one-half of these students were assessed in music, and the other half were assessed in visual arts. The music portion of the assessment measured students' ability to respond to music in various ways. Students were asked to analyze and describe aspects of music they heard, critique instrumental and vocal performances, and demonstrate their knowledge of standard musical notation and music's role in society. The visual arts portion of the assessment included questions that measured students' ability to respond to art as well as questions that measured their ability to create art. Responding questions asked students to analyze and describe works of art and design. For example, students were asked to describe specific differences in how certain parts of an artist's self-portrait were drawn. Creating questions required students to create works of art and design of their own. For example, students were asked to create a self-portrait that was scored for identifying detail, compositional elements, and use of materials.

Most recently, in 2016, a total of 8,800 eighth-graders in the nation's public and private schools responded to and critiqued existing works of music and visual art and created their own original artwork. NCES collected and analyzed the data and released the 2016 report highlighting key findings. Average music and visual arts responding scores are reported separately on a scale of 0 to 300 points. Average creating scores for visual arts are reported on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. Results are also reported by student groups, school type, and region, as well as in comparison to the 2008 assessment.

In addition, NAEP has a number of special studies that are conducted periodically. These include research and development efforts such as the High School Transcript Study and the National Indian Education Study. More information on these special studies is available on the NAEP Web site.

These data are not available from NADAC. Users should consult the National Assessment of Educational Progress Web site for details on obtaining the data and other resources. NADAC is distributing "An Introduction to NAEP" from its Web site.

NAEP also collects information from student, teachers, and schools in order to provide a more complete understanding of the results and overall student performance. This information is collected through the following:

  • Student questionnaires collect information on students' demographic characteristics, classroom experiences, and educational support
  • Teacher questionnaire gather data on teacher training and instructional practices
  • School questionnaires gather information on school policies and characteristics

The results of these questionnaires help to provide contextual information for the assessments, as well as information about factors that may be related to students' learning. These results can be analyzed using the NAEP Data Explorer.

NAEP is a congressionally-mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), within the Institute of Education Sciences of the United States Department of Education. NAEP does not provide results for individual students, classrooms, or schools.

Free and easy access to data on the arts and on the arts' value and impact for individuals and communities