Parents' Frequently Asked Questions About NAEP (page 2)
What is the NAEP Assessment?
NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is often called the "Nation's Report Card." It is the only measure of student achievement in the United States where you can compare the performance of students in your state with the performance of students across the nation or in other states. NAEP, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, has been conducted since 1969. The results are widely reported by the national and local media. Learn more about NAEP.
Does NAEP replace the state tests that my child takes every year?
No. The achievement tests that your state requires each year are different from NAEP assessments.
Why do we need both the state achievement tests and NAEP?
Most state tests measure student performance on the state's own curriculum standards (i.e., what the state considers important for their students to know and be able to do). State tests allow comparisons of results over time within the state, and in most cases give individual student scores so that parents can know how their child is performing. State tests do not provide comparisons of results with other states or the nation.
NAEP is the only assessment that allows you to compare results from one state with those of another, or with results for the rest of the nation. NAEP helps states answer such questions as the following: How does the performance of students in my state compare with the performance in other states with similar resources or students? How does my state's performance compare with the region's? Are my state's gains in student performance keeping up with the pace of improvement in other states?
Together, state achievement tests and NAEP help educators and policymakers have a comprehensive picture of student performance.
Why does my state participate in NAEP?
One reason a state chooses to participate in NAEP is that it considers NAEP data to be a valuable source of information. Some states use NAEP results to supplement the information they get from their own tests. NAEP permits your state to directly compare how it performs relative to the nation and other states. Since 1992, more than 40 states have participated in every state NAEP assessment.
Another reason for state participation, beginning with the NAEP 2003 assessment, came about with the passage of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. The NCLB was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2001, and requires that states receiving federal "Title I" education funds participate in NAEP reading and mathematics assessments at grades 4 and 8 every two years (view the assessment schedule).
You can see your state's participation history and performance by selecting your state from the NAEP State Profiles. Within your state's profile you will find visual displays that permit you to compare your state's performance with that of the nation and other states.
How many schools in my state have been selected?
In a typical state, 100 schools are selected in grade 4, and 100 schools in grade 8. These schools are selected to represent the demographic and geographic composition of the state. Get more information about how schools are selected and how NAEP is administered.
What will participation in NAEP mean for my child?
How was my child selected?
Your child was randomly selected to participate. Your child represents students in your state attending schools with similar characteristics.
Within a selected school and grade, 25 to 30 students are chosen for each subject tested. All of the data from selected students from all of the schools are then combined to represent all students in the state. The participation of every student selected helps ensure the most accurate measure of student performance in your state and the nation.
Does my child have to take NAEP?
No. Unlike your state's assessment, which is mandatory for students, NAEP is voluntary for students. However, your child represents hundreds of students in your state. If all selected students participate, NAEP provides a very accurate measurement of your state's overall achievement.
States want their NAEP results to be accurate and fair indicators of how well their students are doing. The results are widely publicized. Your state's performance on NAEP is often presented in comparison with that in other states and the nation, as is the progress that your state makes from one NAEP assessment year to another. Your state board of education and your legislature use the NAEP results for planning programs to address specific needs in your state. The amount of federal funding that your state receives may also be affected by participation in NAEP.
Learn more about why your participation in NAEP is important.
What types of questions are asked on NAEP?
A NAEP assessment is divided into two sections: subject-specific test questions and questions about student backgrounds and educational experiences.
Test questions are asked to measure fourth-, eighth-, twelfth-graders' knowledge and skills in a variety of subjects, including reading, mathematics, writing, science, U.S. history, geography, civics, and the arts. For 2006, a new assessment measured twelfth-graders' knowledge and skills in economics. Each of these subjects is tested periodically, and students are asked questions on only one subject per assessment.
Background questions are asked to get information about students' gender, race and ethnicity, and other topics. The questions are required by Congress to provide a more informative picture of how different groups of students are performing. NAEP is prohibited by law from asking about personal or family beliefs and attitudes.
The questions are either multiple choice, where the students choose from a few possible answers, or open-ended format, where the students write their own responses. By law, all NAEP questions are secular, neutral, and non-ideological.
To see background questions and examples of test questions previously asked on NAEP, view the sample questions booklets. A sample questions booklet will be provided to the school if it was selected to participate. Also, more than a thousand sample test questions are available in the NAEP Questions Tool.
Additional information is collected from the principals and teachers at participating schools. Information about classroom practices, teacher training, school environment, and other topics provide a better understanding of the environment in which students learn. You can view all background questions for the most recent assessment available on the NAEP website or in your child's school if it was selected to participate.
Does my child have to answer all of the questions?
No. Children do not have to answer any question on NAEP with which they are uncomfortable, and can stop taking the assessment at any time. NAEP does not ask about personal or family beliefs and attitudes.
Will my child's answers be kept confidential?
Yes. Your child's name will not be associated with the completed assessment booklet. After students complete the assessment, their names are physically removed from the booklets and are never associated with the booklet or a test score.
The assessment is confidential. It is against federal law to identify any student participating in NAEP. The law specifies severe penalties for anyone revealing the identity of the children taking NAEP. In its 30-year history, that security has never been broken.
Will taking NAEP affect my child's grade?
No. NAEP does not calculate individual students' scores. Just as the government does not have access to information about how your child performs on NAEP, neither does your school, nor your child's teacher.
Will I get to see the results of my child's test?
No. There are no individual student results. Instead, NAEP combines all student responses to provide information on the performance of groups of students. NAEP reports overall results for the nation, the states, and for groups of students, such as males and females.
Find out how your state performed by clicking on your state in the NAEP State Profiles. If you'd like to explore the results in more detail, either visit the major results pages for mathematics, reading, and other subjects, or use the NAEP Data Explorer.
How long does the NAEP assessment take?
From beginning to end, NAEP assessments take less than 90 minutes. This includes setting up, taking the assessment, and getting back to instructional activities.
Will my child have to leave the classroom to take NAEP?
In schools where all students are included in the assessment, NAEP is given in the classroom. In other schools, NAEP works with school officials to find the most appropriate place to give the assessment.
Will my child's teacher spend class time helping students get ready for NAEP?
No. Special preparation is not necessary or expected. There are no scores for individual students or schools, so teachers do not have an incentive to help students practice for any NAEP test.
What are the benefits to my child for taking the assessment?
NAEP is an important measure of student achievement that can help ensure our children are receiving the best education possible. Parents or guardians, educators, and policymakers at the local, state, and national levels can learn a lot from the results of NAEP assessments. This information will help them to make decisions about education now and in the future. If your child has been selected to participate, he or she will help provide the most accurate picture of how students are performing in your state.
Participating in NAEP may also be personally helpful to your child. Students and teachers have reported that taking a NAEP assessment helps to sharpen test-taking skills. NAEP provides an opportunity to practice answering high-quality questions in a low-stress environment. NAEP does not count toward a student's grade, and does not provide individual results for students or schools. Children do not need to spend any time preparing for NAEP, and do not need to worry if they do not finish the assessment or do not know an answer to a question.
Where can I see the assessment that my child will take?
Booklets containing sample test questions and all background questions are available on the NAEP website. In addition, more than a thousand released NAEP questions are on the NAEP website in the easy-to-use NAEP Questions Tool.
These sources provide you with a very good picture of the assessment that your child may take. However, you may arrange to see the actual test questions on this year's assessment. To view assessment questions that have not yet been made public, please contact your NAEP State Coordinator, whose name can be found through your state's profile, or send a written request to the National Assessment Governing Board either by e-mailing NAGB@ed.gov or by mailing to:
National Assessment Governing Board
800 North Capitol Street, N.W., Suite 825
Washington, D.C. 20002-4233
Who gives NAEP to my child?
There are about 3,000 people nationwide who administer the assessment. Many of these individuals are retired teachers. All NAEP administrators undergo rigorous security clearances. They are also trained in confidentiality and security procedures. In all cases, teachers are encouraged to remain in the testing area with their students.
Your state also has a NAEP coordinator, who helps answer questions about NAEP and who communicates with NAEP administrators. To find your NAEP State Coordinator, select your state or other jurisdiction from the NAEP State Profiles.
May my child with disabilities participate in NAEP? His/her IEP does not specifically address NAEP.
The decision to include students with disabilities in NAEP assessments is made by school personnel, who decide whether students can meaningfully be assessed with or without accommodations based on information in a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP). Generally, children who are included in the state or local testing program are included in NAEP, if selected.
Special-needs students use the same accommodations in NAEP assessments that they use in their usual classroom testing unless the accommodation would make it impossible to measure the ability, skill, or proficiency being assessed (for instance, reading aloud to a student in a reading assessment) or the accommodation is not possible for the NAEP program to administer. For instance, extending testing over several days is not used for NAEP because NAEP administrators are in each school only one day. Some of the most common NAEP accommodations for students with disabilities are large-print books, extended time, small-group or one-on-one testing, oral reading of directions, and use of an aide for transcribing responses.
English is not my child's native language. Will he or she be able to take NAEP?
Probably. NAEP tries to be as inclusive as possible. If a child has received academic instruction in English for three years or more (including the present year), he or she is expected to participate in NAEP if selected. Students with fewer than three years of English instruction should also participate in NAEP if selected, unless their school decides they are incapable of participating in the assessment in English. Sometimes accommodations are allowed. One of the most common accommodations for students classified as English language learners (ELL) is extended time to answer assessment questions.
May my child take NAEP if he or she was not selected?
No. Through a careful process, NAEP selects the smallest number of students possible that are needed to represent your state fairly and accurately. This way, the time and effort of participants and administrators are kept at a minimum, and NAEP is able to obtain an accurate and useful measure of student performance.
Reprinted with the permission of the U.S. Department of Education.
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