Despite the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Civics’ importance as a no-stakes, diagnostic measure for our field, it has been administered to only 8th graders since 2010, and there are no plans to assess 4th and 12th graders again until 2029, leaving a 19-year generational gap in civics proficiency data for both elementary and high school students. This is inexcusable in a subject area where students perform second-worst (followed only by U.S. History), especially given the importance of civics to the strength and sustenance of our constitutional democracy.
Moreover, given tremendous variation by state in terms of K–12 civic education policies, the limited national sample from which NAEP Civics draws prohibits state-by-state comparisons of results. In the last biennium alone, 16 states adopted 17 policies aligning with CivXNow’s State Policy Menu, including stand-alone civics course requirements in 4 states. Without state-level disaggregation of data, we are unable to assess the differential impact of these policies.
Congress provided funding for NAEP testing across grade bands and a larger sample allowing for state level disaggregation for the past two fiscal years (2022 and 2023). However, the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) has so far failed to accelerate the timeline for implementation, meaning we’ll have an unacceptable seven-year gap in results from today until Spring 2030. NAGB should also update the NAEP Civics Framework—which hasn’t been updated since 1998—to account for recent scholarship in civics and history content and pedagogy such as that reflected in the Roadmap to Educating for American Democracy.