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National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science Assessment Instrument

Supplemental Information:


Assessment Type:

Multiple choice, short constructed response questions, and extended constructed response questions



Publication Date:

Nov 07, 2008


4th, 8th and 12th grade students

Domain(s) Evaluated:

Attitude, Content, Competence, Career

Sample items:

4th Grade
List four ways that the Earth is different from the moon.

8th Grade
What property of water is most important for living organisms?

(a) It is odorless. (b) It does not conduct electricity.
(c) It is tasteless. (d) It is liquid at most temperatures on Earth.

12th Grade
In the space below, draw a rough sketch (not necessarily to scale) illustrating the simplified model of the Solar System by showing the Sun and the four inner planets with their orbits. Be sure to label the Sun and each planet.


Cohen’s >0.80


High consistency across multiple markers



Administration time:

70 minutes

Requires a Computer:


Requires Internet Access:


Primary reference:

Allen, N.L., Carlson, J., & Zelenak, C.A. (1998). The NAEP 1996 Technical Report. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.


The full list of available NAEP student questionnaires can be found here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/bgquest.asp

To learn about the NAEP Science Assessment, go here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/science/

Publications related to the Science NAEP can be found here: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/getpubcats.asp?sid=031

The content-specific questions pool for science can be accessed here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/itmrlsx/search.aspx?subject=science The content-specific questions pool for Mathematics can be accessed here: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/itmrlsx/search.aspx?subject=mathematics

Other References:
Pellegrino, J. W. (2013) Proficiency in Science: Assessment Challenges and Opportunities. Grand Challenges in Science and Education, 340 320-324.
This article does not do any statistical test on the assessment however it does discuss in detail the positive attributes of NAEP compared to assessments testing similar aspects. It specifically talks about how NAEP is one of the few assessments that approximates most of the performance expectations discussed in the NRC framework, the survey aligns with the descriptions of proficiency. Also discussed was the malleable and changeable nature of the survey. It undergoes major revisions nearly every decade, keeping it update with current research.

Reilly, D., Neumann, D. L. & Andrews, G. (2014). Sex Differences in Mathematics and Science Achievement: A Meta-Analysis of National Assessments of Educational Progress Assessments. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(3), 645-662.
This study used the NAEP instrument in their paper and analyzed it for reliability. High consistency across multiple markers was found for the response items for mathematics and science. Cohen’s was >0.80. Item response theory was used to measure latent score, ensuring high reliability. NAEP was compared to a linking study finding the trends comparable to international standards.

STEM Criteria