NAEP Data: Beat Reporters’ Secret Weapon


Most education reporters at one time or another cover test results on NAEP, known as “the nation’s report card.” But if that’s all you do, you’re missing out on a powerful tool that can complement your daily reporting.

Join EWA and the Center on Education Policy for a reporter-focused webinar on making the most of the National Assessment for Educational Progress on Aug. 4 at 2:00 p.m. (eastern) The webinar will help you better understand NAEP and gain practical tips. EWA and CEF will explain the fundamentals of NAEP, its uses and misuses, help you navigate the NAEP Data Explorer website, and answer your questions.

For starters, did you know . . . ?

Only a sample of students and schools take NAEP. The sample is designed to be representative of the nation as a whole. In addition, each student participating in NAEP takes only a subset of all the questions on the test. Therefore, NAEP does not produce scores for individual students, classrooms, or schools.

NAEP’s definition of “proficient” performance is higher than most state definitions. And the percentage scoring “proficient” is not an accurate proxy of how many students are performing at grade level.

In addition to the scores that are released every two years, NAEP has more than 1,400 variables on students, teachers, schools, communities and parents that can be sliced and diced in various ways. For example, you can determine the relationship between the number of books in the home and average scores, parental education levels and student results, the highest level math course taken and math results for 12th-grade students, and so much more.