TODAY -

Learning outcomes: An initiative for ensuring quality education

Dr Neeraja Rashmi *



Improving the quality of learning has consistently been in focus under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and the Right to Education (RTE) Act

Background

The RTE Act, 2009 focuses on Continuous and Comprehensive Education (CCE), which is an important landmark in ensuring all-round educational attainment. Continuous evaluation implies that evaluationshould be a continuous process.

It should be built into teaching and learning. Comprehensive evaluation implies the evaluation of not only academic abilities but the aspects of personality like interests, attitude, values, outdoor activities etc. The objective of CCE is also to improve the learning through diagnosis by providing remedial measures.

Periodical formal assessment to find the learning deficiencies may not be sufficient. It is because, by the time the deficiencies of learning/ understanding are realised through periodical testing, it may be too late. The timely diagnosis is also very important for the teachers, as it enables them to understand the gaps in their own teaching and thus help them improvise teaching strategies.

Thus, CCE helps the teachers to develop an understanding on the learning process of the learners, identify the learning gaps and bridge them in time to facilitate teaching-learning in a stress-free environment.

Developing Learning Outcomes

To facilitate regular monitoring of learning by all stakeholders (teachers, parents and administrators) in each class, NCERT has developed a document ''Learning Outcomes at the Elementary Stage" (April, 2017) which includes learning outcomes mentioned distinctly for each class in Languages, Mathematics, Environmental Studies, Science and Social Science up to the elementary Stage.

To help the teachers understand and achieve the learning outcomes, some suggestive pedagogical processes are provided in the columns adjacent to that of learning outcomes. The teachers may adopt/adapt and can even design many more pedagogical processes as per the availability of resources and the local context.

The section under each curricular area also comprises a brief understanding about the nature of the subject, followed by the curricular expectations in the subject. The objective is to ensure that appropriate learning takes place at these classes.

These outcomes will help all stakeholders to assess the quality of education being imparted at the school level. Improving the quality of learning has consistently been in focus under theSarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), and the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Need and Objectives

Education for All (EFA) framework and EFA Global Monitoring Reports (UNESCO) clearly mentions that access to education is not the only problem. Poor quality of education is an equally important problem; it is holding back learning, even for those who go to school.

Hence, 'it needs to be monitored whether the children in attending school, regardless of their circumstances, acquire foundation in reading, writing and mathematics.'

Therefore, for monitoring the quality of education, the countries need to strengthen their national assessment systems. National assessmentsshould be used as a diagnostic tool, that establish whether students achieve learning standards expected by a particular age or stage/class. The findings of these surveys help in understanding the efficiency of the education system.

The goal of developing the Learning Outcomes is to regularly conduct achievement surveys at the national level, based on these measurable outcomes. Recently, National Achievement Survey (NAS) was conducted on November 13th, 2017 across the country in classes III, V and VIII in Mathematics, Language, Sciences, and Social Sciences.

In the survey, learning levels of more than 30 lakh students from 1.10 lakh schools across 700 districts from all 36 states and Union Territories were assessed.The survey results would be used to understand the efficiency of the education system and to suitably plan/modify classroom interventions.

NAS will help guide education policy, planning, and implementation for improving the learning levels of children and bringing about qualitative improvements.

The other objective of the learning outcomes is that the outcomesalso providea checklist, against which learning can be assessed and monitored. The outcomes are measurable in a qualitative or quantitative manner to assess the progress of a child.

Due to unavailability of such checklist, he teachers usually use exercises given in the units of textbooks to monitor learning. In this backdrop, the learning outcomes not only help the teachers to direct their teaching-learning in the desired manner but also other stakeholders, especially the parents/ guardians.

These outcomes can guide and ensure the responsibility and accountability of different stakeholders for its accomplishment in different curricular areas.

These learning outcomes will also be useful in overcoming the regional disparities in education in the country. This is because, these learning outcomes are not prescriptive and may be contextualised as per the local-specific requirement.

The states may adopt/adapt the suggested pedagogical processes as per their needs and contexts to achieve particular learning outcomes. These can be used by stakeholders to provide insights into the progression of a child's learning in various classes.

Thus, it is expected that the learning outcomes will be useful for teachers, parents and the entire system for improving the quality of learning and overall development of children at the elementary stage of school education.


* Dr Neeraja Rashmi wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Professor, Dept. of Education in Social Sciences, NCERT, New Delhi
This article was posted on December 18, 2017.


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