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NAEP Achievement Levels

Rich and Rigorous Standards

It is only by holding our nation’s students to high academic standards that we can expect them to develop the knowledge and skills they need to compete in today’s global economy. In the national conversation about education standards, NAEP has been a model for what high standards look like.

What Are NAEP Achievement Levels and How Are They Determined?

The assessment’s three achievement levels—NAEP BasicNAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced—are measures of what students should know and be able to do. NAEP Proficient represents solid academic performance for each grade assessed. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter. Thus, NAEP Proficient represents the goal for what all students should know.

It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).

Read about our achievement level descriptions for reporting.

Learn more about how the Governing Board sets achievement levels for each subject and grade assessed on NAEP, and read the policy guiding this process.

Review the achievement levels work plan and procedures manual.