NAEP 2008: Key Findings

For both music and visual arts, on average among the 8th graders assessed:

  • Students eligible for reduced or free lunch scored lower than students ineligible
  • Black and Hispanic students scored lower than White and Asian/Pacific Islander students
  • Public school students scored lower than private school students
  • Students in urban schools scored lower than students in suburban schools.

The overall average responding score for 8th graders assessed was set at 150 on a scale of 300 for both music and visual arts, with a wide variance in scores between the lowest- and highest-achieving students. Scores for music ranged from 105 for music and 104 for visual arts for the lowest-performing students to 194 for music and 193 for visual arts for the highest-performing students. Because music and visual arts are two distinct disciplines, results are reported separately for each area and cannot be compared. 

The average creating task score for visual arts was reported separately as the average percentage of the maximum possible score from 0 to 100 with a national average of 52. In general, students who performed well on the responding questions also performed well on the creating questions.

Compared to 1997, the average reported frequency of arts instruction for 8th graders remained about the same.  However, according to data collected from school administrators, 8% of 8th graders attended schools where no music instruction was offered, and 14% of 8th graders attended schools where no visual arts instruction was offered.  These findings show a slight improvement from 1997.