Achievement-Level Results

Overall NAEP Achievement Levels
Lower percentage of eighth-grade students at or above NAEP Proficient compared to 2014

In 2018, about 15 percent of eighth-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level on the U.S. history assessment, which was lower than the 18 percent of students performing at or above this level in 2014, the previous assessment year. There was no significant change in the percentage of students performing at or above NAEP Proficient compared to 1994, the first assessment year.

Also in 2018, about 66 percent of eighth-grade students performed at or above the NAEP Basic level, which was lower than the 71 percent who performed at or above this level in 2014, but higher than the 61 percent of students performing at this level in 1994.

In 2018, one percent of eighth-grade students performed at the NAEP Advanced level, which was about the same as the corresponding percentages in 2014 and 1994.

NAEP achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three achievement levels (NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced). Students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. It should be noted that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade-level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments). NAEP achievement levels are to be used on a trial basis and should be interpreted and used with caution. Find out more about the NAEP U.S. history achievement levels.

NAEP achievement-level setting is based on the judgments of a broadly representative panel of teachers, education specialists, and members of the general public. The authorizing legislation for NAEP requires that the achievement levels be used on a trial basis until the Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) determines that the achievement levels are reasonable, valid, and informative to the public (20 USC § 9622(e)(2)(C)). The NCES Commissioner’s determination is to be based on a congressionally mandated, rigorous, and independent evaluation. The latest evaluation of the achievement levels was conducted by a committee convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in 2016. The evaluation concluded that further evidence should be gathered to determine whether the achievement levels are reasonable, valid, and informative. Accordingly, the NCES Commissioner determined that the trial status of the achievement levels should be maintained at this time. Read more about how NAEP achievement levels are set. In 2018 the National Assessment Governing Board issued a revised Policy Statement clarifying that the NAEP Proficient level is not intended to reflect grade-level performance expectations but is specific to performance on NAEP assessments. Read the Governing Board Policy Statement.

The chart below lists the percentages of eighth-grade students performing at each of the NAEP U.S. history achievement levels in 2018 and previous assessment years. Set the baseline at either NAEP Basic or NAEP Proficient to see the percentages of students performing at or above that NAEP achievement level. Click "Show NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of eighth-grade students at each of the NAEP achievement levels. Click "Hide NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentages of students at or above the selected baseline NAEP achievement level. Use the slider to change focal years.

NAEP Achievement Levels by Student Group
Lower percentages of eighth-grade students at or above NAEP Proficient for several student groups compared to 2014

NAEP reports on the following student groups: race/ethnicity, gender, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, parental educational level, type of school, charter school, school location, region of the country, status as students with disabilities, and status as English language learners.

In 2018, the percentages of eighth-grade students who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level were lower for several student groups in comparison to 2014. For example, the percentages of White, male, and female students who performed at or above the NAEP Proficient level on the U.S. history assessment were lower in 2018 compared to 2014. The percentages of students who performed at or above NAEP Proficient were also lower for students whose parents had some education after high school and students whose parents graduated from college.

In comparison to the first assessment year in 1994, the percentages of students performing at or above the NAEP Proficient level in 2018 were higher for White and Hispanic students, male students, and students attending public schools.

The chart below lists the percentages of eighth-grade students performing at each of the U.S. history NAEP achievement levels. Click "Show NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentage of students at each of the NAEP achievement levels. Click "Hide NAEP achievement-level details" to see the percentage of students at or above NAEP Basic or at or above NAEP Proficient. Click to set the baseline at either NAEP Basic or NAEP Proficient to see the percentages of students performing at or above NAEP Basic or at or above NAEP Proficient.