U.S. History Specifications for the 2006 and 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress
The 2006 National Assessment of Educational Progress in U.S. History will assess students' knowledge and understanding of the history of the United States in all of its complexity--its themes, periods, events, people, ideas, turning points, movements, and sources. The assessment will examine students' understandings of chronology and perspectives across time, their grasps of historical facts and contexts, their understandings of the ideals and realities of political institutions and practices, their appreciation for the commonalities and diversities of American society, and their views of how key documents and artifacts shed light on history. In addition, the assessment will examine students' ways of knowing and thinking about history, not only the ability to recall factual information, but also the ability to analyze the influence of the past on the present, the ability to weigh evidence to reach sound generalizations and conclusions, and the ability to make informed judgments.
A variety of stimulus materials will be used in the assessment--copies of primary documents and secondary interpretations, maps, charts, graphs, political cartoons, pictures, photographs, timelines, and artifacts. Two exercise (item) formats will be used for responses--single correct-response multiple-choice items and constructed response items. The constructed response items will require the student to generate different types of paper-and-pencil responses. Some items will require short written answers, while others will require constructing maps or timelines, charting data, or writing an extended response.
All exercises must be: 1) historically accurate; 2) sensitive to our multicultural society; 3) based on primary and secondary source materials; and 4) engaging to students. Detailed specifications for the overall assessment and for the exercises (items) are presented on the following pages.
An Item Writers' Guide setting forth basic rules for good item construction, for both multiplechoice and constructed response item types, is to be provided by the test development contractor. The Guide should include criteria for developing items using a combination of stimulus materials and response formats and must conform to the specifications set forth in this document and the NAGB Policy on Item Development and Review, as well as to any formatting requirements of NAEP.
The following specifications for the assessment are divided into two sections: Assessment Specifications and Exercise Specifications. The Assessment Specifications section defines how the assessment should be built, while the Exercise Specifications section details the content and cognitive domains and gives instructions for exercise construction.