The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is a periodic, nationally-representative assessment study of student achievement in various school curriculum subjects. To date there have been five NAEP Geography Assessments: 1994, 2001, 2010, 2014, and 2018. Over that period, NAEP has repeatedly reported low levels of student proficiency in geography, especially among minorities. For example, Hispanic 8th-graders as a whole have barely scored above the “Basic” proficiency level (partial mastery of subject matter), whereas African American students as a whole have never even reached the “Basic” proficiency level.

NAEP research

While the outcomes of the NAEP Geography Assessments are available to the public, researchers may apply for a license to access raw, restricted NAEP data from the Institute of Education Sciences (a research entity within the U.S. Department of Education). The restricted data include highly detailed background data on students, teachers, and schools participating in the assessment. Educational researchers in fields such as history, math, and visual arts have in the past acquired restricted NAEP datasets to conduct exploratory statistical analyses aimed at identifying student-, household-, and school-level factors that associate with varying levels of student achievement.  

With support from the National Science Foundation, NCRGE is implementing a project designed to build the capacity of geographers to carry out similar research using NAEP Geography Assessment datasets. One of the major deliverables of this project will be a comprehensive multilevel statistical analysis of restricted-use NAEP Geography datasets. This exploratory analysis is scheduled to be completed in summer 2020.

NCRGE invites interested individuals to join a NAEP Geography Research Network to plan future research that builds on the exploratory analysis.

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