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The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) U.S. history examination is designed to gauge fourth-, eighth-, and 12th-grade students’ proficiency in U.S. history “in the context of democracy, culture, technological and economic changes,” as well as the country’s changing role in the world. The data show that the share of American students demonstrating proficiency in U.S. history is small—but slowly increasing, at least at the lower grade levels.1

Endnotes

  • 1Proficiency, as measured by NAEP, is grade-specific. The knowledge and skills a fourth grader must demonstrate to be considered proficient are different from those that a 12th grader must demonstrate. For definitions of proficiency in history for each of the grade levels, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ushistory/achieve.aspx.

I-05a: History Achievement of Eighth Graders as Measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994–2014*

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* Percentages for each year may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

** Value statistically significantly different (p < .05) from 2014.

† Accommodations not permitted for English language learners and students with disabilities; such accommodations permitted in later years.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation’s Report Card: History 2014: Achievement Levels, http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/hgc_2014/#history/achievement, accessed 12/15/2015

Although it was introduced later and is given less frequently than the reading assessment (see the indicators under the topics “Trends in Basic Reading Skills among School-Age Children” and “Reading Proficiency Relative to that in Science and Math”), the NAEP for U.S. history also supplies data describing change over time in students’ knowledge of a core humanities subject. (For information on state policies regarding the teaching of history at the precollegiate level, consult the National History Education Clearinghouse’s Fall 2011 update to its 2010 Report on the State of History Education.) The NAEP history scores are reported here by achievement level. For an explanation of the achievement scale and detailed information about the competencies associated with each achievement level, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ushistory/achieve.aspx. For readers interested in detailed tabulations of student scores by gender and race/ethnicity, as well as their changes over time, the NAEP report card provides an interactive tool at http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/hgc_2014/#history/achievement#groups.

I-05b: History Achievement of Fourth and 12th Graders as Measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994 and 2010

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* Value statistically significantly different (p < .05) from 2010.

** Accommodations not permitted for English language learners and students with disabilities; such accommodations permitted in later years.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress, The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010, NCES 2011-468 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011), 2 fig. C.

Although it was introduced later and is given less frequently than the reading assessment (see the indicators under the topics “Trends in Basic Reading Skills among School-Age Children” and “Reading Proficiency as Compared with that in Science and Math”), the NAEP for U.S. history also supplies data describing change over time in students’ knowledge of a core humanities subject. (For information on state policies regarding the teaching of history at the precollegiate level, consult the National History Education Clearinghouse’s Fall 2011 update to its 2010 Report on the State of History Education.) The NAEP history scores are reported here by achievement level. For an explanation of the achievement scale and detailed information about the competencies associated with each achievement level, see http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/ushistory/achieve.aspx. For readers interested in detailed tabulations of student scores by gender and race/ethnicity, as well as their changes over time, the NAEP report card provides an interactive tool at http://www.nationsreportcard.gov/hgc_2014/#history/achievement#groups.

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