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The Nation's Report Card

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About the arts assessment
Student artwork from the NAEP Arts assessment.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2008 arts assessment presents a comprehensive view of what students in the United States know and can do in the areas of visual arts and music. The arts assessment was previously administered in 1997 at grade 8 in music, theater, and visual arts. Because of budget constraints and the small percentage of schools with dance and theater programs, students at grade 8 were only assessed in music and visual arts in 2008 at grade 8. Because music and visual arts are two distinct disciplines, results are reported separately for each area and cannot be compared.

The 2008 assessment evaluated the responding process in music and both the responding and creating processes in visual arts. Responding questions asked students to analyze and describe works of art and design, while creating questions asked them to create works of art and design of their own.

The average responding score is reported on a scale of 0 to 300, while the average creating task score for visual arts is reported as the average percentage of the maximum possible score from 0 to 100.

The arts assessment was developed and reviewed by a committee of arts experts to capture the goals of the arts framework. The National Assessment Governing Board, through a comprehensive national process involving visual arts, music, dance, and theater teachers, researchers, measurement experts, policymakers, and members of the general public, created the framework, which describes the goals of the assessment and the kinds of exercises it ought to feature. The arts committee was instrumental in the development of the assessment.

Although the questions in the 2008 assessment were taken from those administered in the previous arts assessment in 1997, not all of the results can be compared between the two years. While comparisons across years cannot be made for the average responding and creating task scores, the percentages of students' correct responses to the multiple-choice questions in 2008 can be compared to those in 1997.

Learn more about the procedures used to create the 2008 arts assessment.

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