Long-term trend performance levels describe the range of reading skills demonstrated by students when responding to assessment questions. Results are reported in terms of the percentages of students attaining each performance level. Changes in the percentages at or above each performance level reflect changes in the proportion of students who demonstrated the knowledge and skills associated with that level.
The five performance levels are applicable at all three age groups (age 9, age 13, and age 17); however, the likelihood of attaining higher performance levels is related to a student's age. That is, younger students are more likely to successfully respond to questions that reflect the lower performance level descriptions. For this reason, only three performance levels are discussed for each age. For age 9, performance-level results are presented for at or above 150, 200, and 250. While some assessment questions are administered at more than one age group, cross-age comparisons in student performance results are not supported by the data and are discouraged. Read more about the setting of long-term trend performance levels.
Performance Levels for Age 9
Level 150 Carry Out Simple, Discrete Reading Tasks
Level 200 Demonstrate Partially Developed Skills and Understanding
Level 250 Interrelate Ideas and Make Generalizations
Higher percentages of 9-year-old students at or above 200 and 250 performance levels compared to 1971
Compared to 1971, higher percentages of 9-year-old students performed at or above two of the three performance levels reported for that age. The percentage performing at or above level 200 has increased by 8 percentage points and the percentage of 9-year-olds performing at or above level 250 has increased by 4 percentage points since the first assessment year. Compared to the previous assessment in 2020, however, the percentages of students performing at each of the three performance levels were lower. Click on the performance level in the figure below to see the percentages of students at or above the selected baseline performance level.
Figure Trend in NAEP long-term trend reading performance-level results for 9‑year‑old students
Skills Associated With Each Performance Level
Each performance level is associated with a cut score on the long-term trend reading scale. The cut scores for each of the three reported performance levels for age 9 students are indicated in the item map below, which presents a range of skills demonstrated by 9-year-old students in 2022. The descriptions of selected assessment questions indicate what students need to do to correctly answer multiple-choice questions or the level of comprehension students demonstrate when responding to constructed-response questions. For example, 9-year-olds with a score of 228 were likely to be able to recognize the main topic of a short paragraph.
|Students with a score of...
|...were likely to have this knowledge or skill
|Top end of scale
|300 to 500
Interrelate Ideas and Make Generalizations
|250 to 300
|Generalize from details to recognize the meaning of a description (MC)
|Recognize the significance of a detail in a story excerpt (MC)
|Interpret story details to recognize what happened (MC)
|Recognize the main purpose of an expository passage (MC)
|Recognize the main purpose of an article describing a process (MC)
Demonstrate Partially Developed Skills and Understanding
|200 to 250
|Retrieve and provide relevant information about the subject of a biographical sketch (CR)
|Locate and recognize a fact in an expository passage (MC)
|Make an inference to recognize generalization of the main topic (MC)
|Infer the characters' feelings based on the story dialogue (MC)
|Recognize the main topic of a short paragraph (MC)
|Make an inference based on explicit information in a biographical sketch (MC)
|Recognize a supporting detail in a short document (MC)
|Recognize an explicitly stated fact from a short expository passage (MC)
|Recognize the meaning of a figure of speech in a short poem (MC)
|Connect explicit details to recognize the main idea (MC)
|Retrieve and provide a relevant fact related to the main idea (CR)
|Recognize an explicitly stated sequence from an expository passage (MC)
Carry Out Simple, Discrete Reading Tasks
|150 to 200
|Recognize explicit information in an expository passage (MC)
|Use details and prior knowledge to infer a speaker (MC)
|Choose the best description of a text feature (MC)
|Recognize an explicit detail from a poem (MC)
|Below Level 150
|0 to 150
Legend: MC: multiple-choice question. CR: constructed-response question.
Note: The position of a question on the scale represents the scale score attained by students who had a 65 percent probability of obtaining credit at a specific level of a constructed-response question, or a 74 percent probability of correctly answering a four-option multiple-choice question.