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National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP)

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) (NAEP Explained) (NAEP Beginnings) allows for comparison of student performance between the states. The test allows the public to see how well California is doing compared to the national average and states with similar demographics like Texas.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tests basic skills in reading, math, science, and a variety of other subject areas at certain grade intervals. In California, NAEP tests students in fourth and eighth grades. NAEP subject exams are not administered every year, but are usually administered every few years on a staggered basis for each subject. Approximately 40 states participate in the NAEP, and the exams are one of the key instruments used to compare the achievement of students across the nation.

The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) oversees NAEP and is responsible for determining the content and design of each NAEP subject area assessment. For each subject area, the NAGB develops an assessment framework to describe what students should know and be able to do at grades four, eight, and 12. The NAGB says that the frameworks are not meant to be a national curriculum, but a broadly accepted outline of what a national assessment should test.

NAEP uses matrix sampling, which is a testing technique that assembles different assessment documents covering aspects of a subject. These various assessments are administered to different sample sets of students. In other words, on the reading exam not every student answers the same questions. Aggregate scores for all students are then calculated. The major advantage of matrix sampling is that it allows for very wide coverage of subject content in limited testing time.

Since NAEP uses matrix sampling, it is impossible to compare scores among students, schools, or school districts. This is unlike the SAT-9 exam, which allows for such comparisons since all students take the same test and answer the same questions. NAEP produces statewide data and allows for comparisons of performances among states. Also, unlike the Stanford-9, which scores students using a percentile ranking compared to a national norm, the raw numerical NAEP scores of students, which are termed