Paradigm shifts in education policy

9 April 2018
Blog series by Accountability Initiative

The focus of education policymakers on outcomes, especially learning outcomes, is steadily rising. Accountability Initiative’s blog series captures this change in the field of assessments in India’s public education system.

  • 13 November 2017 was a landmark day for India’s education sector as the largest ever learning assessment survey of students, formally known as the National Achievement Survey (NAS), was rolled out in around 700 districts of the country. Conducted by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), NAS 2017 covered a sample of nearly 3.6 million children from 120,000 schools spread across all districts of India. Sample coverage of this magnitude made it the largest ever sample survey conducted by the Indian government till date. Know why NAS 2017 was so important and the potential it has to move beyond being just a policy tool to also becoming a tool for accountability.                                                                                                                                                   
  • The other major highlight of 2017 was the scrapping of the No Detention Policy (NDP) and the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) by the CBSE. The No Detention Policy (NDP) saw light of day when the Right to Education Act (2009) was implemented. Under Section 16 of the Act, schools were prohibited from detaining or expelling any student up to standard 8. Moreover, schools were required to remove the oft dreaded end term examinations. The end term examination pattern was to be replaced with a new pattern of testing called Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE). Under this, schools were to test students periodically throughout the year, using a mix of written and activity-based assessments, on what they were actually learning. Yet the transition was anything but smooth for the following reasons.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
  • Also in 2017, the Right to Education Act, 2009 was amended to include a new landmark provision- learning outcomes (LOs). These aim at improving the quality of school education and increasing accountability in the teaching system. If implemented well, learning outcomes could mark a paradigm shift in India’s approach towards teaching and assessments and play an important role in the way India’s students learn in the years to come. The next blog discusses the importance of learning outcomes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
  • In all, recent policy changes clearly demonstrate that debates around what are the best means to teach and assess students are far from settled. This, however, does not take away from the urgency of introducing critical reforms in assessment patterns, accountability structures in the education department, improving capacity and addressing resource gaps in order to implement the RTE Act in both letter and spirit. Without these reforms, there is a real danger of reducing LOs to just another marker in report cards, upholding the status quo vis a vis teaching-learning and assessments. Know more here


The views shared belong to individual faculty and researchers and do not represent an institutional stance on the issue.