Explore Results for the
2018 NAEP U.S. History Assessment

In 2018, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) administered the U.S. history assessment to a nationally representative sample of eighth-grade students. The U.S. history 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 of U.S. history and historical thinking skills across four major themes: Change and Continuity in American Democracy (Democracy); Gathering and Interaction of Peoples, Cultures, and Ideas (Culture); Economic and Technical Changes and Their Relation to Society, Ideas and the Environment (Technology); and Changing Role of America in the World (World Role). Students also answered survey questions about their opportunities to learn and their engagement with U.S. history in and outside of school.

How did students perform in U.S. history?

In 2018, the average U.S. history score for eighth-grade students was 4 points lower compared to 2014. The 2018 average score was higher than that in 1994, the first assessment year.

FIGURE | Trend in eighth-grade NAEP U.S. history average scores

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

Detailed U.S. History Assessment Results

More detailed U.S. history assessment results are available throughout this Report Card.

About the U.S. History Assessment

The NAEP U.S. history assessment measures students’ knowledge and understanding of U.S. history in all its complexity – its major themes, periods, events, people, ideas, turning points, movements and historical sources. The assessment examines students’ understanding of chronology, differing perspectives across time, and their grasp of historical facts and contexts. The purpose of the assessment is to probe students’ knowledge of history as well as their ability to analyze how the past influences the present, to evaluate historical evidence, and to make sound generalizations and conclusions. Learn more about the NAEP U.S. history framework.

Assessment Design and Administration:
  • The U.S. history assessment was administered between January and March of 2018.
  • A nationally representative sample of approximately 16,400 eighth-graders from about 780 schools across the nation participated in 2018.
  • This was the first digitally based U.S. history 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 U.S. history 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.

Read More