National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

An interactive presentation of National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for the states, grouped by race/ethnicity, and then by lunch status.

The U.S. Department of Education, through the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), conducts the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) every other year. Known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” it is “the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America’s students know and can do in various subject areas.” 1

NAEP is useful because the test is created and administered independently of the states: “Since NAEP assessments are administered uniformly using the same sets of test booklets across the nation, NAEP results serve as a common metric for all states and selected urban districts.”2 This is important because studies have shown that states vary widely in the rigor of the tests they create themselves: “The key finding is that the variation among state achievement standards continues to be wide.” 3

The NAEP tests are administered at several grade levels and for a variety of subjects, but the primary focus is on math and reading, at grades four and eight. I’ve gathered test scores from NCES several test years, for these two subjects and two grade levels, with the results available by race/ethnicity in one visualization, and by lunch eligibility in another. Eligibility for the school lunch program is used as a proxy for household income, with “eligible” meaning the student is from a low-income household.

I gathered the data using the NAEP Data Explorer available at NCES 4 and used Tableau Public to present the data. The data includes the scale score for each state, grade, and subject, along with the percentage of students scoring “Below Basic,” “At or above basic,” “At or above proficient,” and “At Advanced.”

For the visualization based on race/ethnicity, click here.

For the visualization based on school lunch status, click here.

For more visualizations, click here.

Example visualization. Click for larger.
Example visualization. Click for larger.


  1. National Assessment of Educational Progress. About. Available at
  2. ibid.
  3. National Center for Education Statistics. About the NAEP State Mapping Analyses. Available at
  4. Available at
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