A History of NAEP Assessment Frameworks
National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) frameworks describe the content and skills measured on NAEP assessments as well as the design of the assessment. They provide both the “what” and the “how” for national assessment. Representing the best thinking of thousands of educators, experts, parents, and policymakers, NAEP frameworks describe a broad range of what students learn and the skills they can demonstrate in reading, mathematics, writing, science, history, civics, economics, foreign language, geography, and the arts. NAEP is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas. The frameworks represent a vision for America’s future.
The hopes expressed in the Civics Assessment Framework are at the heart of every NAEP initiative. “The assessment is designed to show how well American students are being prepared for citizenship in our constitutional democracy … the National Assessment Governing Board hopes its results will be used to improve civic education for all of America’s children and to help make sure that our republic, established near the end of the 18th century, continues alive and well into the 21st and beyond.”
NAEP frameworks serve the public good in many ways. The process used for their development creates a democratic dynamic forum for experts to address issues in their field. Varying opinions are sought and aired. Working together, thinking together, and learning together, framework committees construct a document that represents shared beliefs and a shared description of what students should know and be able to do. Although discussion during the process may sometimes become contentious, in the history of the Governing Board every framework has been adopted by the Board unanimously with no dissenting reports.
NAEP frameworks also help to inform public discourse. By making transparent the content and skills measured on NAEP assessments, they allow the public to see what is behind the scores. This is of critical importance when The Nation’s Report Card is released and comparisons of student achievement are drawn across states. NAEP frameworks help leaders across the nation make good decisions about state and local standards and assessments. In order to measure trends in student performance, NAEP frameworks are designed to remain stable for at least 10 years. At the same time, all frameworks are responsive to changes in national and international standards as well as in curriculum. Without advocating any particular approach to instruction or attempting to represent the full range of what should be taught, NAEP assessment frameworks provide a starting place for constructive conversations about improving education.