Civics score declines for the first time; score unchanged compared to 1998
In 2022, the average civics score at eighth grade decreased by 2 points compared to 2018. The average score in 2022 was not significantly different from 1998, the first year the assessment was given. The average score is reported on the NAEP civics scale, which ranges from 0 to 300.
Figure Trend in eighth-grade NAEP civics average scores
Closer Look at Student Performance
Score decreases for lower- and middle-performing students since 2018
Figure Changes in eighth-grade NAEP civics scores at five selected percentiles: 2018 and 2022
NAEP reports scores at five selected percentiles to show changes over time in the scores for lower- (10th and 25th percentiles), middle- (50th percentile), and higher- (75th and 90th percentiles) performing students. In 2022, the scores for students at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles declined compared to 2018. There were no significant changes in scores at any of the selected percentile levels compared to 1998.
Achievement-Level Results and Sample Questions
Larger percentage of students below NAEP Basic compared to 2018
Figure Achievement-level results in eighth-grade NAEP civics: 1998, 2018, and 2022
In 2022, the percentage of students who performed below the NAEP Basic level increased by 3 percentage points, whereas there was no significant change in the percentages of students who performed at NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced.
There were no significant changes in percentages of students who performed at or above NAEP Basic, at or above NAEP Proficient, or at NAEP Advanced compared to 1998.
Civics sample questions by achievement level
The graphic below allows users to see how three questions asked on the 2022 NAEP civics assessment map to the NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement levels. The graphic also shows the kinds of questions students at these levels are likely to answer correctly. Explore scoring guides, student responses and commentary for the questions in the NAEP Civics Report Card. Explore a set of released questions from the 2022 civics assessment or previous assessments in the NAEP Questions Tool.
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students by NAEP civics achievement levels and percentage of eighth-grade students responding correctly at each NAEP achievement level: 2022
Performance Trends by Student Group
Scores decline for male and female students compared to 2018
Figure Changes in eighth-grade NAEP civics average scores, by gender: 1998, 2018, and 2022
In 2022, scores declined for some student groups compared to 2018; for example, male and female students and those who were not eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Scores for many other student groups, including racial/ethnic groups, did not change significantly compared to 2018.
There were no significant changes in score gaps among most selected student groups between 2022 and 2018. For example, although female students scored higher than male students in 2022, which resulted in a 2-point gender score gap, this score gap was not significantly different from the apparent score difference between male and female students in 2018.
The score gap between White and Hispanic students narrowed by 12 points in 2022 compared to 1998 due to a 14-point score increase for Hispanic students and no significant score change for White students during the same time.
Deeper Dive into Student Learning
The selected NAEP civics survey questionnaire results below describe learning contexts, opportunities, and student and educator perspectives regarding civic learning in the United States. Explore trend data for these questions, as well as data related to learning disruptions and recovery efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the NAEP Civics Report Card.
Although comparisons in students’ performance shown below are made based on self-reported student and teacher 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. There are many factors that may influence students’ average achievement, including local educational policies and practices, the quality of teachers, and available resources. Such factors may change over time and vary among student groups.
Forty-nine percent of eighth-grade students report taking a class mainly focused on civics in grade 8
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: 2022
Twenty-nine percent of eighth-grade students have teachers whose primary responsibility is teaching civics
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics, by teachers who reported whether they have primary responsibility for teaching civics/U.S. government: 2022
More higher-performing students see themselves able to make a difference in their community and believe their civics schoolwork helps them understand what is happening in the world
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics who reported that the following statements describe them quite a bit or exactly, by selected percentiles: 2022
|Students believe the following statements describe them quite a bit or exactly||Proportion of lower-performing students (below 25th percentile)||Proportion of higher-performing students (at or above 75th percentile)|
|I can make a difference in my community|
|Civics and/or U.S. government schoolwork helps me understand what is happening in the world|
Higher-performing students more confident in their ability to explain why it is important to pay attention to and participate in the political process
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP civics who reported that they thought they probably can or definitely can explain the importance of various civics and/or U.S. government-related activities, by selected percentiles: 2022
|Students probably can or definitely can explain why it is important to do the following activities||Proportion of lower-performing students (below 25th percentile)||Proportion of higher-performing students (at or above 75th percentile)|
|Pay attention to the political process and government|
|For individuals to participate in the political process and government|