ACER India is supporting a program to build capacity for implementing assessments that generate strong evidence.

Results from India’s National Achievement Survey and the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) reveal that India, like many countries across the world, is suffering from a learning crisis. Millions of school-going children in the country cannot read, write or do basic mathematics, which greatly impedes their all-round development as future citizens and contributors to the global economy. These results have brought discussions about assessment and learning to the forefront. National and state governments are re-examining learning assessments in the country to meet national and international education commitments.UNICEF India has commissioned the Australian Council for Educational Research (India) to support the strengthening of systemic capacities in large-scale and school-based assessment through a series of workshops over the next two years. The workshops will be conducted in five UNICEF program states with the goal of creating a community of specialists and officials – subject experts, teacher educators, data analysts and policy experts within the system – who are responsible for building a culture of assessment and driving teaching and learning in the state. These capacity building workshops place quality assurance at the centre of education and learning, with the objective of improving learning outcomes so that no child is left behind.Through the capacity building workshops, ACER will support participants to:
  • understand the features of high-quality learning assessment design, item and test development, administration, psychometric and data analysis, reporting, and use of assessment data.
  • develop and use assessment-related products, including item banks, assessment reports, relevant software, manuals and guides for best practices.
  • integrate the learnings from the workshop into their everyday teaching and learning.

The face-to-face workshops will be complemented with offline support to further aid participants in developing a strong understanding of the principles of a robust assessment system. In the long term, the pool of assessment experts will be able to support schools and teachers in transforming education through improved use of assessment data. Eventually, this will enable policymakers to identify the gaps within the education system and consolidate their efforts towards improving learning.

The workshop program is not designed to introduce a parallel system of assessment, rather, it suggests steps to improve existing assessment systems for the generation of high-quality data. It is grounded in the belief that there are different kinds of evidence and improved knowledge of assessment methods supports the collection of robust data. The capacity building workshops recognise the expertise of the state participants and the role of local context in the development of a strengthened assessment system.

At the end of the two-year program, participants will be able to use an assessment framework, create a pool of assessment items, analyse data and prepare reports for guiding teaching strategies that improve learning outcomes of students. It is likely that program participants will be able to transform the quality of test items used in both state-level and classroom assessments. Participants will also be in a strong position to influence the wider teaching community to adopt quality parameters in regular assessment practices. By helping to bridge quality gaps in assessment systems, the impact of the workshops will last beyond the program cycle.

About the author

Neelam Yadav is a Senior Research Fellow at ACER India.