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About the Civics Assessment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2010 civics assessment was designed to measure how well fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders are learning the essential knowledge and skills of democratic citizenship and government. Comparing the results from the 2010 assessment to results from previous years (1998 and 2006) shows how students’ knowledge and skills in civics at these grade levels have progressed over time.

The results from the 2010 civics assessment are based on nationally representative samples of public and private school students at grades 4, 8, and 12. Private schools include Catholic and other private schools. In 2010, results are disaggregated for students attending private schools at grade 8 only because participation of students attending private schools at grades 4 and 12 was not sufficient to permit reporting. Unlike NAEP assessments in other subjects such as reading, mathematics, and science, the civics assessment was not designed to report results for individual states.

The civics framework specifies that the assessment questions address the following three interrelated components: knowledge, intellectual and participatory skills, and civic dispositions. Taken together, these components should form the essential elements of civic education in the United States. Each question in the assessment has both a knowledge and an intellectual skills component. A portion of the questions also measures participatory skills and/or civic dispositions.

The civics assessment was developed and reviewed by a committee of civics and measurement experts to capture the goals of the civics framework. The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the development of NAEP frameworks, incorporated the expertise of many individuals involved in civics and civics education when developing the current civics framework. The 1998, 2006, and 2010 civics assessments were developed using the same framework.

The series of tables on the student population and sample, school and student participation rates, and inclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners provide context for interpreting the results of the assessment. Read the NAEP inclusion policy to learn more about NAEP accommodations and the history of the policy.

Learn more about procedures used as part of the 2010 civics assessment: