Theme Scores

Overall Scores by Theme
Lower scores for eighth-grade students across all four U.S. history themes compared to 2014

In 2018, the average U.S. history scores for eighth-grade students were 6 points lower in the Culture theme and 4 points lower in the Democracy, Technology, and World Role themes compared to 2014.

However, in comparison to 1994, the average U.S. history scores for eighth-grade students were 9 points higher in the Democracy theme, and 8 points higher in the World Role theme. The average score for the Technology theme was 2 points lower and the score for the Culture theme was not statistically different compared to 1994.

In addition to the overall composite 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 (Technology), and The Changing Role of America in the World (World Role). The NAEP U.S. history framework provides the basis for constructing subscales in U.S. history. The subscales are combined into a composite scale used to describe the overall attainment of students in U.S. history. Because subscales were developed separately for each theme, comparisons cannot be made from one subscale to another. Learn more about what the U.S. history themes measured.

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Percentile Scores by Theme
Scores decline for lower- and middle-performing students across all four U.S. history themes compared to 2014

In 2018, lower- and middle-performing students (those at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles) scored lower across all four U.S. history themes compared to 2014. Higher-performing students at the 75th percentile scored lower in the Culture and the Democracy themes, while those in the 90th percentile also scored lower in the Culture theme compared to 2014.

In comparison to 1994, lower-, middle-, and higher-performing eighth-grade students scored higher in 2018 in the Democracy and World Role themes. Middle- and higher-performing eighth-graders scored lower in the Technology theme, and the higher-performing students at the 90th percentile scored lower in the Culture theme compared to 1994.

See percentile scores by the U.S. history themes below.

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Student Group Theme Scores
Dig deeper into the results for the U.S. history themes

Use the drop-down menus to select a U.S. history theme and student groups to explore the average score and score gap results by themes for the selected student groups by race/ethnicity, gender, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, parental education level, type of school, charter school, school location, region of the country, status as students with disabilities, and status as English language learners.

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