U.S. History score continues decline begun in 2014
In 2022, the average U.S. history score at eighth grade decreased by 5 points compared to 2018 and by 9 points compared to 2014. The average score in 2022 is not significantly different from 1994, the first year the assessment was given. The average score is reported on the NAEP U.S. history scale, which ranges from 0 to 500.
Figure Trend in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores
U.S. History Themes
Score decreases across all U.S. history themes compared to both 2018 and 2014
Figure Trend in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores, by U.S. history theme
In addition to the overall average score, NAEP U.S. history results are also reported for the subscale average scores by the four historical themes:
- Change and Continuity in American Democracy (Democracy);
- The Gathering and Interactions of Peoples, Cultures, and Ideas (Culture);
- Economic and Technological Changes and Their Relationship to Society, Ideas, and the Environment (Technology); and
- The Changing Role of America in the World (World Role).
Because subscales were developed separately for each theme, comparisons cannot be made from one subscale to another.
The overall average score decreases in 2022 compared to both 2018 and 2014 were reflected across all four historical themes. Compared to the first U.S. history assessment in 1994, average scores in 2022 for the Democracy and World Role themes were higher while the 2022 average scores for the Culture and Technology themes were lower.
Closer Look at Student Performance
Greater score decreases for lower-performing students since 2018
Figure Changes in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history scores at five selected percentiles: 2014, 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, 50th, and 75th levels declined compared to 2018. Scores for lower-performing students declined more than the score decrease for those at the 75th percentile compared to 2018. This is a continuation of a decline seen at all select percentiles except for the 90th percentile when comparing the 2018 scores to those in 2014. In 2022, there were no significant changes in scores at any of the selected percentile levels compared to 1994.
Achievement-Level Results and Sample Questions
Forty percent of students below the NAEP Basic level in U.S. history; larger percentage compared to 2018
Figure Achievement-level results in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history: 1994, 2018, and 2022
The percentage of students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level in 2022 was 2 percentage points lower compared to 2018, whereas the percentage of students who performed below the NAEP Basic level increased by 6 percentage points. There were no significant changes in the percentages of students who performed at or above NAEP Basic, at or above NAEP Proficient, or at NAEP Advanced compared to 1994.
U.S. history sample questions by achievement level
The graphic below allows users to see how three questions asked on the 2022 NAEP U.S. history 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 U.S. history Report Card. Explore a set of released questions from the 2022 U.S. history assessment or previous assessments in the NAEP Questions Tool.
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students by NAEP U.S. history achievement levels and percentage of eighth-grade students responding correctly at each NAEP achievement level: 2022
Performance Trends by Student Group
Score declines across many student groups compared to 2018
Figure Changes in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores, by gender: Various years, 1994–2022
In 2022, scores declined for many student groups since 2018. For example, scores declined for both male and female students. There were no increases in average scores across the selected student groups compared to 2018. There were no significant changes in score gaps among selected student groups between 2022 and 2018. However, the score gap between male and female students was wider by 4 points in 2022 compared to 1994 as a result of the 3-point score decrease for female students and no significant score change for male students.
Deeper Dive into Student Learning
The selected NAEP U.S. history survey questionnaire results below describe learning contexts, opportunities, and student and educator perspectives regarding U.S. history. 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 U.S. history 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. Many factors 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 may vary among student groups.
Sixty-eight percent of eighth-grade students report taking a class mainly focused on U.S. history in grade 8
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP U.S. history, by whether they have taken a class or course about U.S. history in the eighth grade: 2022
Fifty-five percent of eighth-grade students have teachers whose primary responsibility is teaching U.S. history
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP U.S. history, by teachers who reported whether they have primary responsibility for teaching civics/U.S. government: 2022
Higher-performing students more frequently have assignments that ask them to use several historical sources and study cause and effect in history class
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP U.S. history who reported participating in various U.S. history-related practices when studying the subject during the current school year, by selected percentiles: 2022
|U.S. history-related practices||Proportion of lower-performing students (below 25th percentile)||Proportion of higher-performing students (at or above 75th percentile)|
|Respond to assignments based on information from several sources in at least more than half of the social studies lessons|
|Examine the causes and effects of important events in U.S. history often or always/almost always|
Higher-performing students more confident in their ability to judge the accuracy of historical sources, compare different points of view, and understand how historical events relate to each other
Figure Percentage of eighth-grade students in NAEP U.S. history who reported that they probably can or definitely can do various U.S. history-related activities, by selected percentiles: 2022
|Students probably can or definitely can do the following activities||Proportion of lower-performing students (below 25th percentile)||Proportion of higher-performing students (at or above 75th percentile)|
|Judge whether information from a source is accurate|
|Compare and evaluate different points of view about the past|
|Understand the relationship between two historical events|