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Role Of Large Scale Assessments In Improving India’s Digital Education System

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By Sandeep Kavety, Head of Product, ConveGenius Insights 

COVID-19 – possibly the largest pandemic the world has ever seen – led to an economic crisis probably more radical and global than ever before; as well as disruption of learning on an unprecedented scale. Millions of children and youth have been affected by the closure of schools due to this pandemic and conflict. This has not just shed light on the vast inequalities within the Indian education system between and within states but has expanded it further with increasing digital interventions and access to remote learning.
A study shows that nearly 264 million students in India are enrolled in 1.55 million schools. Of which, 187 million students are in grades 1 to 8, and 55% of these students have not fulfilled grade-level proficiency standards. This figure has been additionally alarming since COVID-19 induced restrictions on schools from March 2020, resulting in major learning loss for students.
Despite several initiatives from edtech companies to make quality education accessible to all and decrease the inequalities, the country has not seen much improvement in its learning outcomes. Also, there is limited evidence on the extent to which the digital content curated by these edtech players reaches children; whether they are engaging with it, and the impact it is having.
In this context, large-scale assessments have been phenomenal in identifying the problems at a massive scale. They have been bringing clarity in education-based policymaking and planning. The acquisition of essential data by way of assessments has enabled the formulation of informed decisions aimed at helping young learners achieve their full potential.
Moreover, a 2018 World Bank report states, “National and subnational learning assessments provide system-level insights that are essential for guiding an education system.” Thus, in a country where children are two grades below grade-level proficiency, LSAs can be a tool to design curricula and train teachers to improve instruction quality.

How is the Assessment Programme supporting the Education System?

Assessment is a key component of today’s educational systems, serving as both an individual evaluation system and a way to compare performance across a spectrum of students.
It has been proved to be the perfect way in gathering relevant information about student performance or progress or to ascertain student interests. Also, useful in making judgments about their learning process. Likewise, it has been empowering educators to look at each student’s level of achievement with this information to customize their teaching plans. The goal of continuous assessment, day-to-day feedback about the learning and teaching process is to reinforce the efficacy of teaching and learning by enhancing the understanding of teaching as a formative process that evolves with feedback and input from students.
There are different kinds of assessments available, and sometimes it could be taxing to keep the real purpose of evaluation at the forefront. Hence, a question arises, what is the best way to understand and evaluate a system?
In today’s world, large-scale assessments are considered the most essential way to understand and evaluate a system because it has the capacity to move the needle forward on the learning outcomes across an entire state.
LSAs are the well-intended assessment process helping a State focus on the correct levers for altering education rather than guessing the right interventions to apply. In addition, ensuring dissemination of results to all stakeholders, combined with target setting and continuous monitoring of improvement in learning, shifts the improved outcomes of a state forward by leaps.

Effective Tools to implement LSAs

Clear policy and objectives

States should begin with formulating clear policies and objectives for students in each grade and every subject. What do they wish to teach children, and how? Furthermore, states can buy existing LSAs provided by several platforms and directly implement them at the school level to see the results.

Strong governance

To record the visible results in the students’ learning, it is essential for the states to build a strong accountability system where the responsibilities are clearly defined. It will help establish the results of the measures being undertaken.

Enabling resources

There should be adequate funding to cover all aspects of LSAs including design, administration, analysis, reporting, and dissemination. The successful implementation of LSAs also requires experienced resources to help build systemic capacity.

Technical capacity

In the technical capacity, questions should distinguish between rote and conceptual learning and identify misconceptions. Test instruments should be built from a blueprint designed to meet assessment objectives; new test instruments should be piloted on small samples first. Similarly, assessments should be designed to allow comparison over time and states must put in place strategies to ensure data reliability and representative coverage of students.

Data usage

Insightful data analysis coupled with effective dissemination is an intrinsic part of an LSA. The relevant analysis includes growth in learning outcomes over time, bucketing students by
proficiency levels, identifying areas of strength and weakness and performing misconception analysis. It doesn’t just end with analyzing the performances but disseminating the results to the last level individuals who need them the most for effective improvement in interventions, the teachers.

Summing up

Assessments along with actionable insights to drive interventions play a pivotal role in driving the system forward. While formative assessments can provide immediate feedback to teachers & schools, it is the LSA which acts as a magic wand which pushes the envelope further at a system level. Investing in a combination of interventions and assessments can not just improve learning outcomes but also increase the efficiency of policy implementation by providing realistic feedback which will eventually reduce the inequalities in the Indian education system.

Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.

Sandeep Kavety, Head of Product, ConveGenius InsightsThe author Sandeep Kavety is Head of Product at ConveGenius Insights. He holds over nine years of experience in Project Management in Software & K10 education with a proven track record in Measuring Outcomes. Currently, he is leading multiple Large-Scale Education Assessment projects, measuring learning outcomes of students across the country to help policymakers in transforming the education system in the country.