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400 girls from underprivileged community in North East Delhi were awarded vouchers worth upto Rs. 3700 per year
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Joint Initiative of School Choice Campaign and www.schooladmissions.in
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Home > Campaigns > Policy Campaign > Learning Outcomes and Achievements


Learning Outcomes and Achievements

The quality of education received by the student is paramount to all other concerns. An independent assessment of learning achievements is the only way to comprehend the quality of education and may serve as a starting point for future educational policies. Independent studies of learning achievements by NGO Pratham, published in their Annual Status of Education Report, show that less than 50% of Standard V children are able to perform the reading expected in a Standard II level. However, the public policy discourse, especially on part of the Government, continues to emphasize on enrolling, not learning.

The recent suggestion by the Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development to set up an independent accreditation body for schools is a welcome move, as this would inform and empower the parent to make the right choice of schooling. However, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill is strikingly quiet on the issue of learning achievements. In fact, the current bill guarantees a Right to Schooling but not a Right to Education. In other words, it guarantees graduation but not learning. In particular, three sections (Section 8, 9 and 29) of RTE bill specifically talk about ‘good quality elementary education’ and ‘child’s understanding of knowledge’, but fail to provide institutional mechanisms to ensure quality or assess learning. In order for every child to be assured education of a standard quality, the RTE bill needs to be amended to incorporate a regular, independent evaluation mechanism. Recommendations made by the National Advisory Council, under the Chairpersonship of Smt Sonia Gandhi in February 2006, suggested that the legislation address this issue by the "setting up of National Testing Standards, which can be used to assess children at different levels” and “independent testing agencies to be set up at the national and state levels."

The RTE bill disallows any child to be held back or conducting standardized examinations until completion of elementary education. Though such a provision would provide a trauma-free educational experience, there would be no assessment of learning achievements, thus making it impossible to identify the learning progress of different students and making available any remedial assistance for those who need it. This could be addressed by setting up an independent body - National Institute for Learning Assessment – that would study and assess the school-wise academic performances of students (from, say, Standard 3 upwards) across the nation. The results from this study could help in setting the standards of learning achievements that are then prescribed to government-run and government-aided schools, thus making them more performance-oriented.

Karnataka Schools Quality Assessment Organization

The Government of Karnataka set up the Karnataka Schools Quality Assessment Organization (KSQAO) in 2006 to gauge the quality of schools by assessing student learning outcomes across the state. The objective of this organization was to achieve in every school, within a three year time period:

  • Enrolment of all the children in the age group of 6 to 14.
  • Ensuring 75% Attendance of all the children enrolled.
  • Ensuring at least 60% of the children acquiring 80% of the competencies

In the first year of its existence, the project assessed a total of over 21 lakh (2.1 million) students from Class 2, Class 5 and Class 7 across 46,000 elementary schools. The results from this study are used as inputs for the Policy Planning Unit of the Department of School Education to formulate policies that will guarantee excellence in school education. KSQAO was funded by the Government of Karnataka and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan.

This project is an excellent example of a large scale learning assessment study that has been carried out under the auspices of a state government and a central government sponsored education scheme. KSQAO could thus be followed as a template to replicate in to a national learning assessment study that focuses on measuring learning assessments of students across the country. This will function as a real marker of academic performance and learning outcomes of schools – both government and private – everywhere.


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