Explore Results for the
2018 NAEP Geography Assessment

In 2018, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the geography assessment to a nationally representative sample of eighth-grade students. The geography assessment was delivered on digital devices for the first time in 2018, as well as on conventional paper and pencil formats. It assessed students’ knowledge and skills in three content areas (Space and Place, Environment and Society, and Spatial Dynamics and Connections) and three cognitive areas (knowing, understanding, and applying). Students also answered survey questions about their opportunities to learn and their engagement with geography in and outside of school.

How did students perform in geography?

In 2018, the average geography score for eighth-grade students was 3 points lower compared to 2014. The 2018 average score was not significantly different compared to 1994, the first assessment year.

FIGURE | Trend in eighth-grade NAEP geography average scores

A summary of the results from the 2018 geography assessment can be found in the Report Card Highlights.

Detailed Geography Assessment Results

More detailed geography assessment results are available throughout this Report Card.

About the Geography Assessment

The NAEP geography assessment combines key physical science and social science aspects of geography into a cohesive and topical whole by focusing on what students should know about geography to be competent and knowledgeable 21st century citizens. The assessment measures what students know and can do in three geography content areas: Space and Place, Environment and Society, and Spatial Dynamics and Connections. Its purpose is to provide a measure of students’ knowledge, understanding, and application of geography’s content and perspectives. Learn more about the NAEP geography framework.

Assessment Design and Administration:
  • The geography assessment was administered between January and March of 2018.
  • A nationally representative sample of approximately 12,900 eighth-graders from about 780 schools across the nation participated in 2018.
  • This was the first digitally based geography assessment; previously it was administered only in a paper-based format. For this administration, students were randomly assigned to take either the digitally based assessment or the paper-based assessment.
  • Students answered questions related to geography for approximately 60 minutes.
  • Survey questionnaires were administered to students, teachers, and school administrators.

The Story of NAEP

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a continuing and nationally representative measure of trends in academic achievement of U.S. elementary and secondary students in various subjects. It is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation's students know and can do in select subjects. It was first administered in 1969 to measure student achievement nationally. Teachers, principals, parents, policymakers, and researchers all use NAEP results to assess progress and develop ways to improve education in the United States.

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