DCPS Definitions: What is NAEP? 

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DCPS Definitions is a new series that explains the meaning and importance of programs, tests, and terms that you may encounter in your child’s education.

What is NAEP?

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a test administered nationwide to measure knowledge in certain subjects. NAEP is known as a “gold standard” test given by an independent party, the National Assessment Governing Board

Who takes the test?

In DC, a sampling of students takes reading and math tests for NAEP in the grades 4th and 8th.  This means that not every 4th and 8th grade student will take the test. Schools and students are selected at random.

What does it measure?

In DC, students are tested for knowledge in reading and math. The test compares a state’s performance to the rest of the country. The results have two functions: 1) they serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts. 2) the federal government uses this test to form a picture of student academic progress over time.

How often is it administered?

It is given to our students every other year.

Why do the results matter to DCPS families?

As the “Nation’s Report Card”, the NAEP tells us how we’re doing as a “state” (DCPS and charter school results are combined).  NAEP is one way to assess how our students are performing against other students in the country. The results tell us how much progress we have made or need to make to ensure that our students are learning and retaining knowledge specific to their grade level.

In December, we’ll be able to know how DCPS specifically performed on the NAEP. The data will be broken down to the district level and released in the form of the TUDA (Trial Urban District Assessment).   Look out for another DCPS Definitions article around that time.

How have we been doing?

In 2011, the last time the NAEP results were released, DCPS performed:

  • READING: 20% of 4th graders scored proficient or above.
  • READING: 15% of 8th graders scored proficient or above.
  • MATH: 23% of 4th graders scored proficient or above.
  • MATH: 15% of 8th graders score proficient or above in Math.

These scores were all improvements upon 2009 results. For today's results, click here.

What’s the difference between the DC CAS and NAEP?

DC CAS is a state-specific test administered to students in grades 2 through 10 each year to measure individual student achievement in subjects. The data from the DC CAS are used in a variety of ways, such as for helping guide teacher instruction, and for school and classroom accountability. In contrast, NAEP is given every other year to a random selection of students in 4th and 8th grade, and is used to compare states with one another. Student-level performance is not reported, and DCPS does not use the results to hold administrators or teachers accountable.

Does my child receive a report on their NAEP performance?

Results are completely anonymous, so children do not receive individual reports.

How I can help my child prepare for the NAEP?

  1. Plan ahead.  As always, it is very important that your child makes it to school on time each day.
  2. Keep up your normal healthy routine. Getting enough sleep and eating a healthy breakfast will help your child stay alert and do their best.

For more tips, check out the DCPS Parent Handbook.

Inside DCPS Highlights.


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