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Frequently Asked Questions

Why should my child participate in NAEP?

The participation of each child selected is important to the success of The Nation's Report Card because only a representative sample will allow the assessment to provide fair, accurate, and useful information on student achievement. Your child will represent hundreds of students in your state. Without your child's participation, The Nation's Report Card would not fully represent students in schools similar to your child's with respect to geographic location, minority enrollment, and other characteristics.

NAEP provides the common measure we need to tell us how America's students are performing in various subject areas. It informs us how student performance has changed over time, and allows states to compare their progress with that of other states and the nation as a whole.

As the "Nation's Report Card," NAEP must provide data that accurately represent all students. To reduce the burden of testing, NAEP selects the fewest possible schools and students that will provide an accurate picture of a state or the nation. Because of this, it is important that all students selected to participate in NAEP agree to do so.

The results are widely publicized. Your state's performance is often presented in comparison with other states and the nation, as is the progress that your state makes from one assessment to another. The state board of education and your legislature use the results for planning programs to address specific needs in your state.

Learn more about why your child's participation in The Nation’s Report Card is important.

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How are students selected?

Within a selected school and grade, 25 to 30 students are randomly chosen for each subject tested. All of the data from selected students from all of the schools are then combined to represent all students in the state. The participation of every student selected helps ensure the most accurate measure of student performance in your state and the nation.

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Is participation in NAEP voluntary?

Yes. Unlike your state's assessment, which is mandatory for students, NAEP is voluntary for students. However, your child represents hundreds of students in your state. If all selected students participate, The Nation's Report Card provides a very accurate measurement of your state's overall achievement.

States want their assessment results to be accurate and fair indicators of how well their students are doing. The NAEP results are widely publicized. Your state's NAEP performance is often presented in comparison with that in other states and the nation, as is the progress that your state makes from one national assessment year to another.

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Will my child's answers be kept confidential?

Yes. Your child's name will not be associated with the completed assessment booklet. After students complete the assessment, their names are physically removed from the booklets and never associated with any booklet or test score.

The assessment is confidential. It is against federal law to identify any student participating in The Nation's Report Card. The law specifies severe penalties for anyone revealing the identity of the students taking the assessment. In its 30-year history, that security has never been broken.

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Will taking NAEP affect my child's grade?

No. NAEP is not designed to produce individual scores, so there can be no comparison between your child's performance on NAEP and his or her performance in the classroom. Just as the government does not have access to information about how your child performs on NAEP, neither does your school, nor your child's teacher.

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Will I get to see the results of my child's test?

No. There are no individual student results. Instead, student responses are combined to provide information on the performance of groups of students. Overall results for the nation, the states, and for groups of students, such as males and females, are reported.

Find out how your state performed by going to NAEP State Profiles. If you'd like to explore the results in more detail, either visit the information pages for science and other subjects, or explore the NAEP Data Explorer.

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Can I see a sample test or a test booklet?

Through links on the Downloads and Tools page, you have access to sample questions and a questions booklet from the most current assessment. The questions booklet contains a description of the assessment, sample questions, and the background questionnaire that your child will be asked to complete.

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How long does the NAEP assessment take?

From beginning to end, NAEP assessments take less than 90 minutes. This includes setting up, taking the assessment, and collecting materials at the conclusion of the assessment.

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Why do we need both the state achievement tests and NAEP?

The achievement tests that your state requires each year are different from NAEP assessments. Most state tests measure student performance on the state's own curriculum standards, that is, what the state considers important for students to know and be able to do. State tests allow comparisons of results over time within the state, and in most cases give individual student scores so that parents can know how their child is performing. State tests do not provide comparisons of results with other states or the nation.

NAEP is the only assessment that allows you to compare results from one state with those of another, or with results for the rest of the nation. NAEP helps states answer such questions as the following: How does the performance of students in my state compare with the performance in other states with similar resources or students? How does my state's performance compare with the region's? Are my state's gains in student performance keeping up with the pace of improvement in other states?

Together, state achievement tests and NAEP help educators and policymakers develop a comprehensive picture of student performance.

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What kinds of publications about NAEP are available?

The NAEP program produces many publications each year. Two that you might find particularly interesting are

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