ERIC Identifier: ED465707
Publication Date: 2002-06-00
Author: Patrick, John J.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse for
Social Studies/Social Science Education Bloomington IN.
The 2001 NAEP in U.S. History. ERIC Digest.
Since its inception by the United States Congress in 1969, the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has collected information about what
students in the United States know and can do in core subjects of the school
curriculum. NAEP is administered by the National Center for Educational
Statistics (NCES) in the United States Department of Education's Office of
Educational Research and Improvement (OERI). NAEPs in United States history were
conducted in 1986, 1988, 1994, and 2001. This Digest discusses (1) the framework
of the 2001 NAEP in U.S. history, (2) the assessment procedures, and (3) the
findings of this national assessment of achievement in U.S. history by students
at grades 4, 8, and 12.
The framework developed for the 1994 NAEP in
U.S. history was used again in 2001. Thus the findings of the 1994 assessment
can be compared with those of the 2001 NAEP in U.S. history. A 22-member
planning committee composed of historians, teachers, and history educators took
primary responsibility for developing a framework to guide the structure and
content of the 1994 NAEP in U.S. history. In addition, several hundred persons
-- historians, history educators, school administrators, representatives of
professional associations, and members of the general public -- contributed to
the framework development by participating in public hearings or writing
critical reviews of drafts of the framework document. This process yielded the "U.S. History Framework for the 1994 National Assessment of Educational
Progress," which set specifications for the subsequent development and
administration of the background questions and test items that constitute the
assessment. This framework also provided the structure for interpretation of the
The core of the framework consists of four themes in U.S. history:
* Change and Continuity in American Democracy: Ideas, Institutions,
Practices, and Controversies
* The Gathering and Interactions of Peoples, Cultures, and Ideas
* Economic and Technological Changes and Their Relation to Society, Ideas,
and the Environment
* The Changing Role of America in the World
The four themes of the framework relate to each of the following eight
periods of history:
* Three Worlds and Their Meeting in the Americas (Beginnings to 1607)
* Colonization, Settlement, and Communities (1607 to 1763)
* The Revolution and the New Nation (1763 to 1815)
* Expansion and Reform (1801 to 1861)
* Crisis of the Union: Civil War and Reconstruction (1850 to 1877)
* The Development of Modern America (1865 to 1920)
* Modern America and the World Wars (1914 to 1945)
* Contemporary America (1945 to Present)
The framework specifies ways of knowing and thinking about U.S. history. Two
cognitive levels were considered when developing the exercises for the national
assessment: (1) a lower cognitive level involving recall and comprehension of
knowledge and recognition of perspectives of different persons and groups in
history and (2) a higher cognitive level involving analysis and interpretation
of issues and events and use of evidence to make warranted generalizations about
Common test items of the 1994 and
2001 assessments in U.S. history measured the knowledge and cognitive skills
components of the framework. The assessment included both multiple choice items
and constructed-response items, open-ended questions that challenge students to
use information and ideas to express in writing their thoughts on sources and
events in history. In line with the framework, most of the assessment time
involved exercises that required students to use higher-level thinking skills.
Comparable procedures were used to sample and assess the student population
in 1994 and 2001. The 2001 NAEP, like the 1994 national assessment, was
administered to representative national samples of both public and nonpublic
school students. Approximately 29,000 students were sampled: 7,000 4th graders,
11,000 8th graders, and 11,000 12th graders. The national sample consisted of
1,108 schools: 365 at grade 4, 369 at grade 8, and 374 at grade 12.
Students responded to U.S. history assessment items and questionnaires about
personal characteristics and experiences possibly related to achievement in U.S.
history. Teachers of the student respondents completed questionnaires about
curricular content and classroom practices.
Results for each grade -- fourth, eighth, and
twelfth -- are reported according to three achievement levels: Basic,
Proficient, and Advanced. The Basic level indicates partial mastery of knowledge
and skills that are prerequisites for competency in U.S. history. The Proficient
level signifies competent academic performance in the knowledge and skills of
U.S. history. The Advanced level designates superior performance in U.S.
history. The particular knowledge and skills denoted by each achievement level
were determined and the distinctions between achievement levels were set by
broadly representative panels of experts (e.g., master teachers, historians,
education specialists, and members of the general public). Thus, the achievement
levels represent collective judgments about what students should know and be
able to do in U.S. history at grades 4, 8, and 12.
Sixty-seven percent of fourth graders, 64 percent of eighth graders, and 43
percent of twelfth graders attained the Basic level. Eighteen percent of fourth
graders, 17 percent of eighth graders, and 11 percent of twelfth graders
achieved the Proficient level. Two percent of fourth graders, 2 percent of
eighth graders, and 1 percent of twelfth graders reached the Advanced level. The
achievement of 4th and 8th graders rose slightly between 2001 and 1994. At 12th
grade average scores and achievement of students stayed the same in 2001 as in
In general, the results of the 2001 NAEP in U.S. history are as disappointing
as those of 1994. A striking indicator of disappointing performance is the high
percentage of students in grades 4, 8, and 12 who did not reach even the Basic
level of achievement. Thirty-three percent of fourth graders, 36 percent of
eighth graders, and 57 percent of twelfth graders were at the Below Basic level.
Performances on both the 1994 and 2001 NAEP in U.S. history varied
significantly by certain group memberships. At all grades, for example, students
identified as white and Asian/Pacific Islander tended to score higher than did
those identified as black or Hispanic; however, the gap in achievement between
white and black 4th graders was smaller in the 2001 NAEP than it was in the 1994
assessment. And the gap between white and Hispanic 12th graders narrowed from
the 1994 to the 2001 NAEP in U.S. history.
In 2001 as in 1994, students in nonpublic schools tended to perform better
than did students in public schools. And students in Catholic schools scored
higher than students in other nonpublic schools and students in public schools.
At all three grade levels, students who qualified for the federally funded
free or reduced-price school lunch program tended to score lower on this
assessment than students ineligible for this program. This finding suggests
there may be a general relationship between lower socioeconomic status and lower
achievement in U.S. history.
Certain instructional activities and classroom experiences were related to
achievement in U.S. history as measured by the 2001 national assessment. For
example, a negative general relationship existed between daily general use of
computers in social studies or history classes and student achievement; however,
relatively few students reported using a computer in social studies or history
classes. A positive relationship emerged when 8th and 12th graders used
computers for specific instructional activities such as conducting research and
writing reports on topics in U.S. history.
There was a positive relationship between more time spent in 4th grade
classrooms on the teaching and learning of history and student achievement.
Further, 4th graders who spent more time reading and learning from a textbook
achieved higher assessment scores than those who spent less time in this kind of
Eighth graders who used primary source materials weekly earned higher average
national assessment scores than those who experienced less or no use of this
kind of instructional material. Twelfth graders who read biographies and other
kinds of stories in history performed better than those who never experienced
this kind of classroom assignment.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE NAEP IN U.S.
Information in this Digest is from "The Nation's Report Card: U.S.
History 2001." To order this publication or any other NAEP-related products,
contact Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), U.S. Department of Education,
P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398; toll-free 877-433-7827; FAX 301-470-1244.
This publication is also available from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service
(EDRS), 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, VA 22153-2852; toll-free
The NAEP Web site contains information about the NAEP in U.S. history and
general information about assessment, publications, and analysis tools used by
various NAEP projects http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.
REFERENCES AND ERIC RESOURCES.
The following list of
resources includes references used to prepare this Digest. The items followed by
an ED number are available in microfiche and/or paper copies from the ERIC
Document Reproduction Service (EDRS). For information about prices, contact
EDRS, 7420 Fullerton Road, Suite 110, Springfield, Virginia 22153-2852;
telephone numbers are (703) 440-1400 and (800) 443-3742. Entries followed by an
EJ number, annotated monthly in CURRENT INDEX TO JOURNALS IN EDUCATION (CIJE),
are not available through EDRS. However, they can be located in the journal
section of most larger libraries by using the bibliographic information
provided, requested through Interlibrary Loan, or ordered from commercial
Beatty, Alexandra S., and Others. NAEP 1994 U.S. HISTORY REPORT CARD:
FINDINGS FROM THE NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS. Washington, DC:
U.S. Department of Education, 1996. ED 398 139.
Hammock, David C., and Others. HISTORY REPORT CARD: THE ACHIEVEMENT OF
FOURTH, EIGHTH, AND TWELFTH GRADE STUDENTS IN 1988 AND TRENDS FROM 1986 TO 1988
IN THE FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF HIGH SCHOOL JUNIORS. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
of Education, 1990. ED 315 377.
Jones, Lyle V. "A History of the National Assessment of Educational Progress
and Some Questions about Its Future." EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER 25 (October 1996):
15-22. EJ 537 026.
Lapp, Michael S., Wendy S. Grigg, and Brenda S. H. Tay-Lim. THE NATION'S
REPORT CARD: U.S. HISTORY 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education,
NAEP U.S. History Consensus Project. THE U.S. HISTORY FRAMEWORK FOR THE 1994
AND 2001 NATIONAL ASSESSMENT OF EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS. Washington, DC: National
Assessment Governing Board, 2000. ED 444 928.
Reed, Elaine Wrisley. HELPING YOUR CHILD LEARN HISTORY. Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Education, 1993. ED 364 442.