NAEP Frequently Asked Questions

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), is also known as "The Nation's Report Card." NAEP has been administered as a national assessment since 1969 and Maine has participated in NAEP state-by-state testing, in which results are provided for participating states since 1990. Maine's NAEP average scale scores in reading, mathematics, and science tend to be above the national public school average scores. Please note that NAEP does not report any results for individual students, schools, or school districts in Maine.

For the 2015 school year in Maine NAEP will be conducting grade 4 and 8 assessments in mathematics, reading, and science and national grade 12 assessments in mathematics, reading, and science. All Maine NAEP assessments will be administered using paper and pencil format for the final time. In 2017, NCES will transition to technology-based assessments for NAEP.

Is participation in NAEP state testing required?
YES. Local school districts are required to participate in state NAEP testing at grades 4 and 8 in reading, mathematics and in 2015, science.

The following statement appears in the Title IA Assessment and Planning page that is sent to each LEA in Maine.

The LEA agrees, if selected to participate in the State National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 4th and 8th grade reading and mathematics carried out under section 411 (b)(2) of the National Education Statistics Act of 1994.

______YES _____  NO     (If "NO", the LEA cannot receive funds under this part.)

The following assurances are listed in the documentation for any state to receive Title 1 funding: 

What are the requirements for participation in NAEP?
Every state that receives Title I, Part A funds must participate in NAEP's biennial state academic assessments of reading and mathematics in grades 4 and 8. Further, all LEAs that receive Title I, Part A funds and the schools within those LEAs are required to participate in these biennial State assessments of grades 4 and 8 reading and math if selected as part of a state's NAEP sample. State, LEA, and school participation in NAEP assessments, other than reading and mathematics assessments at grades 4 and 8, is voluntary.

Parents of children selected to participate in NAEP assessments must be informed before the administration of the assessment that their child may be excused from participation. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which administers the NAEP assessments, will assist schools, school districts, and states in notifying parents of students selected for NAEP samples about the "opt out" provision in federal law.

The manner of such notification shall be determined by the state, district, or school in which the students are enrolled. NCES will prepare and disseminate more detailed information on NAEP that is specifically designed for parents and the public.

Will the federal government provide assistance to SEAs and LEAs for their participation in NAEP assessments?
Yes. Starting in 2002, NAEP will take responsibility for the administrative support from participating states, districts, and schools. NAEP has established a website, to notify schools and districts about its assessment activities. Further, NAEP supports a NAEP State Coordinator in each state who serves as the liaison between the State Education Agency and NAEP. The coordinator reviews NAEP assessment items and processes, coordinates the NAEP administration in the state, analyzes and reports NAEP data, and coordinates the use of NAEP results for policy and program planning. In addition, NAEP will establish a NAEP State Service Center to provide ongoing support, technical assistance, and training for the NAEP State Coordinators, answer information requests regarding NAEP, conduct meetings with the NAEP State Coordinators and the State Testing Directors, and maintain a NAEP Information Center.

When is the NAEP testing window?
The NAEP 2015 assessment window is January 26, 2015 through March 6, 2015.

Are other national or international tests being conducted this year?
NCES is conducting Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) with a national sample of students in grades 4 and 8. TIMSS also will be conducting grade 12 assessments in advanced mathematics and physics. The TIMSS 2015 assessment window is March 30, 2015 through May 29, 2015. National results placing the United States on the international scale will be released in 2016. The TIMSS 2015 results in mathematics and science in grade 8 will be linked with Maine’s grade 8 NAEP 2015 results to place Maine on the TIMSS scale.

When are NAEP results reported?
The state level results from the NAEP 2015 state assessments in grades 4 and 8 mathematics, reading and science will be released in fall 2015. The state level grade 8 results in mathematics and science will be linked with the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for release in 2016. The national grade 12 NAEP 2015 assessments in mathematics, reading, and science will be released in 2016.

The national level results from the NAEP 2014 national assessments in grade 8 in civics, geography, U.S. history, and technology and engineering literacy will be released in 2015. All pilot assessments in science will be used to develop future NAEP science assessments.

The Maine results from the NAEP 2013 grade 4 and 8 state assessments in reading and mathematics were released in October, 2013. National results from the NAEP 2013 grade 12 can be found here.

What are the responsibilities of selected schools?
Schools are responsible for identifying students who may need accommodations, planning testing locations, grouping the students taking the assessment, notifying parents, and getting students to their testing locations. School administrators and teachers are not required to be involved in the actual administration of the assessment; however, school staff should be available for proctoring each group session. Although the state’s fall student data collection is used to provide NAEP with the initial needed student information, schools will be asked to furnish an updated student list with demographics the first week in January. Beginning with the 2013-14 school year, all pre-assessments activities were conducted online by school level test coordinators designated by their principals.

NAEP requires that parents of students selected for NAEP assessments be notified in writing that their child has been or may be selected for assessment and that each child’s participation is voluntary. Prior to the assessment, a dated copy of the information given to parents must be provided to NAEP field staff. Schools also will need to keep a log of any parent refusals. A sample parent notification letter that may be adapted to satisfy this requirement will be provided to schools.

How much testing time will NAEP require of students?
NAEP does not assess all students. Instead, it tests a representative sample of the state’s or nation’s students. Most NAEP assessments include two short surveys about instructional factors. Since NAEP assessments also include about 20 minutes of contextual questions, the total estimated time for students is 90 minutes for the operational paper and pencil assessments.  

When will we find out which schools have been selected to participate?
In May 2014, I notified Maine Superintendents if they had schools that were selected to participate in NAEP in 2015. Individual school principals are being notified in June, if their respective school was selected to participate. All schools will receive a SAVE-THE-DATE letter in June so that they can reserve the date for NAEP on the 2014-2015 school calendars. There is some flexibility in the assignment of a testing day within the test window. The sooner a school responds to the notification letter, the more flexible the test administration schedule can be if you need an alternative date.

How is the NAEP sample selected?
NAEP uses a process called ‘ systematic sampling with probability proportional to size’ to select a representative sample of Maine students. This sampling process is consistent across all states.  For national assessments, the same procedure is used at a national level. In a probability sampling that is based on demographics, schools are grouped according to factors such as type of location (i.e., rural, suburban), diversity of student enrollment, and achievement on state tests onto an ordered list. A sample of schools is selected from this ordered list. This type of sampling allows statisticians to account for clustering effects when they analyze the test results. It also minimizes administration costs. A new sample is drawn every year that is independent from previous years.

Sometimes it may seem that samples are not randomly selected, as some schools are selected multiple years in a row. Since the probability of a school’s selection is related to number of students in the tested grade, larger schools have a higher probability of being selected. Students within a selected school are selected by simple, random sampling. Since about 30 students in a school are tested in each content area, students in a large school have a smaller chance of being selected. Therefore, NAEP sampling is constructed so that every student in the state or nation has approximately the same chance of being selected to participate in NAEP.

What do the NAEP assessments test?
NAEP conducts assessments in many content areas. State level results are usually available for grades 4 and 8 in reading, mathematics, and science.

The National Assessment Governing Board is an independent, bipartisan board that sets NAEP policy and determines the NAEP assessment schedule that defines which content areas in addition to reading and mathematics are assessed and on what schedule.

Does NAEP allow accommodations?
Yes. NAEP allows commonly used accommodations. For the most part, these are the same accommodations that the NECAP assessments allowed for many years in Maine. All students in a school’s tested grade or age group are eligible for selection in the NAEP sample. The Maine Department of Education expects that most students with disabilities and students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) will participate in NAEP using NAEP accommodations as appropriate, according to the state assessment guidelines.  Only students currently assigned to take the PAAP assessment in Maine can be legitimately excluded from NAEP.

Should you have further questions or clarification, please contact Paula Hutton, Maine NAEP Coordinator at 624-6636 or