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Students in India do schoolwork on a blanket

How Large-Scale Assessments Can Improve Learning Outcomes in India

Prachi Windlass and Sharvi Dublish

Malini lives in the district of Nuh in Haryana in India. She is currently enrolled in eighth grade and has been using her father’s phone for an hour a few times a week to study since schools closed due to the pandemic. She uses that time to watch videos, study worksheets, and take tests sent by her teachers on WhatsApp. Several of these tests are part of her school’s large-scale assessments strategy to measure and improve learning.

Malini especially enjoys math assessments, but this was not always the case. She remembers how up until grade five, her preparation for math tests involved spending several days of memorizing answers to practice questions. However, after the announcement of Saksham Ghoshna (Haryana’s statewide student assessment program) in 2018, her teachers started competency-linked assessments that focused less on rote learning.

At first, Malini performed poorly. But with time and practice, and as teaching methodologies in the classroom also shifted focus from syllabus completion to competency attainment, she started understanding and applying the concepts. Three years later, Malini still remembers those concepts.

Gulshan is a fourth-grade teacher in Himachal Pradesh. She has been using e-Samwad — the state’s app for collection and dissemination of assessment data — to upload student assessment data for more than a year now. She was able to submit all data securely using her phone, even during the COVID-19-induced school shutdown.

Gulshan finds these publicly available dashboards very useful for understanding trends in her students’ learning levels and comparing them with other learners in the state. She uses the data to understand her students’ learning gaps and adapt her teaching strategies to close them. She also shares each learner’s data with their parents, which improves communication and support.

5 Drivers for a Large-Scale Assessment System That Improves Education

Malini and Gulshan give a glimpse of how scientifically designed and competency-linked large-scale assessments can positively impact classroom instruction. However, the role of assessments in improving education quality doesn’t end there. Over the last seven years, we have partnered with four Indian states and several leading assessment organizations — ConveGenius Insights, Centre for Science of Student Learning, and Educational Initiatives — to design and implement assessments.

Together, we have identified key characteristics of both a high-quality test instrument and a system that enables the implementation of an effective large-scale assessment. Our work in Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh taught us that these five drivers lead to a successful large-scale assessment system:

  • Setting clear policy and objectives
  • Creating systems for strong governance
  • Enabling resources
  • Building technical capacity
  • Using data insights

These drivers form a framework that can help states assess their current preparedness for conducting a high-quality large-scale assessment.

An Implementation Toolkit for Large-Scale Assessments

Out of the 187 million students enrolled in grades one through eight in schools in India, 55% do not meet grade-level proficiency standards. This percentage has fallen even more in the last year due to COVID-19-induced school closures and the resulting learning loss.

As schools begin to reopen across the country, large-scale assessments need to be integrated into all remediation efforts to measure current levels of student learning and customize classroom instruction. We hope that this report and implementation toolkit can be a go-to resource for states in their back-to-school efforts.

Report: Large-Scale Assessments in India

Read this report to learn more about large-scale assessments in India and access an assessment implementation toolkit that can be used to improve learning outcomes.

Go to Report