National Assessment of Educational Progress


Using paper and pencil, and Surface tablets NAEP tests students in mathematics, reading, and science, writing, the arts, civics, economics, geography, U.S. history, and in Technology and Engineering Literacy (TEL).

In Maryland, we traditionally have assessed in mathematics, reading, and science.

Grade levels

4, 8

About the test

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.

Beginning in the 2017 administration, NAEP will begin administering ​digitally based assessments (D​​BA) for mathematics, reading, and writing, with additional subjects added in 2018 and 2019. Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, 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.

NAEP provides results on subject-matter achievement, instructional experiences, and school environment for populations of students (e.g., all fourth-graders) and groups within those populations (e.g., female students, Hispanic students). NAEP does not provide scores for individual students or schools.

Key Dates (2016-17)

NAEP Assessment window: January 30–March 10, 2017

Additional resources

MSDE contact information

Jaime Bowers, NAEP Coordinator, at

Frequently Asked Questions

What is NAEP?

NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, produces the Nation’s Report Card, to inform the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. Sponsored by the Department of Education, NAEP assessments have been conducted periodically in reading, mathematics, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography, and other subjects, beginning in 1969. NAEP collects and reports academic achievement at the national level, and for certain assessments, at the state and district levels. The results are widely reported by the national and local media, and are an integral part of our nation’s evaluation of the condition and progress of education.

What are the goals of the NAEP program?

NAEP has two major goals: to compare student achievement in states and other jurisdictions and to track changes in achievement of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders over time in mathematics, reading, writing, science, and other content domains. To meet these dual goals, NAEP selects nationally representative samples of students who participate in either the main NAEP assessments or the long-term trend NAEP assessments.

Who are the students assessed by NAEP?

The national results are based on a representative sample of students in public schools, private schools,Bureau of Indian Education schools, and Department of Defense schools. Private schools include Catholic, Conservative Christian, Lutheran, and other private schools. The state results are based on public school students only. The main NAEP assessment is usually administered at grades 4 and 8 (at the state level) plus grade 12 at the national level. The long-term trend assessments report national results (in mathematics and reading only) for age samples 9, 13, and 17 in public and nonpublic schools.

Who evaluates NAEP?

Because NAEP findings have an impact on the public’s understanding of student academic achievement, precautions are taken to ensure the reliability of these findings. In its current legislation, as in previous legislative mandates, Congress has called for an ongoing evaluation of the assessment as a whole. In response to these legislative mandates, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has established various panels of technical experts to study NAEP, and panels are formed periodically by NCES or external organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences, to conduct evaluations. The Buros Center for Testing, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts/Center for Educational Assessment and the University of Georgia, more recently conducted an external evaluation of NAEP.