Survey Questionnaire Results

Selected 2018 NAEP civics survey questionnaire results are highlighted below for students' coursetaking in civics and/or U.S. government; teachers' instruction in civics and/or U.S. government; and students' confidence in civics-related knowledge and skills.

NAEP survey questionnaire responses provide additional information for understanding NAEP performance results. Although comparisons in students' performance are made based on student, teacher, and school characteristics and educational experiences, these results cannot be used to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the characteristics or experiences and student achievement. NAEP is not designed to identify the causes of performance differences. Therefore, results must be interpreted with caution. There are many factors that may influence average student achievement, including local educational policies and practices, the quality of teachers, available resources, and the demographic characteristics of the student body. Such factors may change over time and vary among student groups.

NAEP reports results using widely accepted statistical standards; findings are reported based on a statistical significance level set at .05 with appropriate adjustments for multiple comparisons. Students are always the unit of analysis when reporting NAEP survey questionnaire responses. The percentages shown are weighted and represent students or students whose teachers or school administrators indicated a specific response on the survey questionnaire. Some student responses are missing due to the inability to link students to their teacher’s or school administrator's responses to the survey questionnaire or due to nonresponse from students, teachers, or school administrators. The denominator of the percentages presented excludes all students with missing information in data for the analysis. The percentage distributions of reported survey response categories could change when students with missing data are included in the denominator. To find missing rates and explore student, teacher, and school questionnaire data further, use the NAEP Data Explorer.

Civics Coursetaking
83% of students report learning about civics in grade 8
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Eighty-three percent of eighth-grade students report learning about civics or U.S. government in grade 8

As part of the 2018 civics assessment, eighth-grade students were asked whether they had taken a class or course about civics and/or U.S. government in the eighth grade.

In 2018, eighty-three percent of students reported learning about civics and/or U.S. government in eighth grade. Specifically, fifty-one percent of students at grade 8 reported taking an eighth-grade class or course mainly focused on civics and/or U.S. government, and another thirty-one percent of students reported that they took an eighth-grade class or course that included some civics and/or U.S. government topics. Grade 8 students who reported taking an eighth-grade class or course mainly focused on civics and/or U.S. government and those who reported taking a class or course that included some civics and/or U.S. government topics had a higher civics score on average (156) than students who reported not taking an eighth-grade class or course that taught civics and/or U.S. government topics (150).

FIGURE | Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics, by whether they have taken a class or course about civics and/or U.S. government in the eighth grade: 2018
50% Reported taking an eighth-grade class or course mainly focused on civics and scored higher in 2018 than students who did not take a class or course with these topics.
Civics Instruction
22% of students have teachers with primary responsibility for teaching civics
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Eighth-grade students whose teachers have primary responsibility for teaching civics or U.S. government to their class score higher on average than students whose teachers do not

As part of the 2018 civics assessment, teachers of eighth-grade students were asked to describe their role in teaching civics and/or U.S. government to their class.

In 2018, twenty-two percent of students at grade 8 had teachers who had primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government to their class. These students had a higher civics score on average (159) than students whose teachers did not indicate having primary responsibility (153).

FIGURE | Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics, by whether their teachers have primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government: 2018
22% had teachers who reported having primary responsibility for teaching civics and scored higher in 2018 than students whose teachers did not report this responsibility.

Teachers’ roles in teaching civics and/or U.S. government to their class were examined by type of school. A smaller percentage of public school students than Catholic school students had teachers who reported having primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government in 2018. Specifically, twenty-two percent of public school students and fifty percent of Catholic school students at grade 8 had teachers who had primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government to their class.

FIGURE | Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics, by type of school and whether their teachers have primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government: 2018
Larger percentage of Catholic school students than public school students had teachers who reported having primary responsibility for teaching civics and/or U.S. government in 2018.
* Significantly different (p < .05) from students attending public schools.
Confidence in Civics-related Knowledge and Skills
74% of students report low to moderate confidence levels
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Nearly three-fourths of eighth-grade students report low to moderate levels of confidence in their civics-related knowledge and skills in 2018

As part of the 2018 civics assessment, eighth-grade students were asked survey questions about their confidence in demonstrating civics and/or U.S. government-related knowledge and skills. For example, students reported whether they believed they could explain the roles and functions of the three branches of the U.S. government and explain the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens. Students’ responses to these survey questions were combined to create an index that focuses on their confidence in civics-related knowledge and skills.

The chart below shows the percentages (in bars) and average scores (in circles) of eighth-grade students who reported low, moderate, and high levels of confidence in their civics-related knowledge and skills. In 2018, seventy-four percent of students at grade 8 reported low to moderate levels of confidence in their civics-related knowledge and skills. Students who reported low or moderate levels of confidence in their civics-related knowledge and skills scored lower on average (144 and 154, respectively) than students who reported high levels of confidence (167). In addition, students who reported low levels of confidence in their civics-related knowledge and skills scored lower on average than students who reported moderate levels of confidence.

See the detailed results for this question in NAEP Data Explorer: