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National Assessment of Educational Progress

National Assessment of Educational Progress

Geography assessments are conducted at the national and state levels. The primary examinations that assess geography at the national level, as either a stand-alone subject or a subject within social studies, are the College Board’s AP Human Geography Examination, International Baccalaureate Geography Examination, General Educational Development (GED), and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

The NAEP Geography exam has been administered to 4th, 8th, and 12th graders three times. The first exam was given in 1994, followed by 2001, and finally 2010. The exam serves to test the geographic knowledge of the US youth to see if they understand spatial relationships, how to read and understand maps, and how people work with and are affected by the environment. The major findings or the exam are as follwed:

Geography scores increase at grade 4, but not at grades 8 and 12. 

Average 4th grade geography score in 2010 was higher.  

Average 8th grade geography score in 2010 was not significantly different. 

Average 12th grade geography score in 2010 was not significantly different from 2001; lower than 1994.

(From NAEP’s Nation’s Report Card: Summary of Major Findings, July 2011)


Brenda Barr

National Geographic Society

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Washington, DC 20036

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