Often called the “nation’s report card,” the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading and mathematics assessments are administered to a representative sample of fourth- and eighth-grade students in each state every two years. NAEP scores offer something rare in education policy: data that are standardized across states and across time. Policymakers and pundits seize upon these data as evidence to support their preferred policies. But comparing NAEP scores assumes that states serve the same students—and we know they don’t.
A better way to compare and talk about NAEP performance is to use adjusted NAEP scores that account for demographic differences across students in each state. These adjusted scores allow for students to be compared with their demographically similar peers using factors such as race, receipt of special education services, and status as an English language learner. These are factors we know can affect test results, yet they are not shown in NAEP scores. The interactive tool below brings those adjusted NAEP scores to life.