NCERT and UNICEF jointly organised a two-day Roundtable on the “National Achievement Survey: Reflection and Way Forward” on 22 August 2023 and 23 August 2023 at Hotel The Park, New Delhi. The roundtable conference was conducted in preparation for the upcoming iteration of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) scheduled for 2024. Prominent experts and stakeholders in large-scale assessment, such as the Ministry of Education, academic institutions and universities, UN agencies, national and international assessment bodies, foundations, and civil society organisations, participated in this forum.
Over 60 experts discussed crucial aspects of the assessment framework, sampling, test administration, data transformation, analysis, and NAS 2021 data usage for policy and instruction. The goal was to analyse NAS 2021 retrospectively, recognise its gaps, learn from the experience, and review and devise adaptations for the upcoming NAS cycle. The objectives of the event were to enhance the technical understanding of assessment professionals and data users about NAS 2021, review its results, and identify actionable steps to enhance the existing NAS process.
Over the course of the two-day conference, five thematic sessions on NAS, each led by an expert, were organised. Each session chair introduced the topic and facilitated subsequent discussions. The sessions were chaired by Sh. Sanjay Kumar Secretary, DSE&L, MoE, Sh. Vipin Kumar, IAS, Additional Secretary, DoSEL, MoE; Sh. Shailendra Sigdel, Statistical Advisor UIS-UNESCO; Sh J. P. Pandey, Director, DoSEL, MoE; and Prof. Indrani Bhaduri, Head, ESD and Head & CEO, PARAKH, NCERT.
Experts present included Prof. K Ramachandran, Member of Mandate Group for National Curriculum Frameworks and Senior Advisor, Unit For International Cooperation, NIEPA; Mr. Terry Durnnian, Chief, Education, UNICEF; Mr. Arjan De Wagt, Representative OIC, UNICEF, India Country Office; Prof. Dinesh Prasad Saklani, Director, NCERT; Ms. Pooja Nagpal, Associate Director, CSF; Ms. Nidhi Chibber, Chairperson, CBSE; Sh. Saba Akhtar, Sr. Director (IT), D/o School Education and Literacy; and Dr. Prema Nedungadi , Director, Amrita CREATE, and Associate Dean, Amrita School of Computing, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham Amritapuri.
Sh. Sanjay Kumar, Secretary, DSE&L, MoE, the keynote speaker, highlighted attendance challenges and the need for appealing pedagogy for student retention. NAS aims to improve learning outcomes. Promoting teacher understanding of achievement surveys and integration into teacher education programs is the key to popularising the assessment. He advocated making NAS data user-friendly.
Sh. Vipin Kumar, IAS, Additional Secretary, DoSEL, MoE, highlighted the challenge of implementing competency-based learning, envisioning NAS integration into school examinations, incorporating out-of-school children into the assessment framework and promoting innovative ideas for student support.
Mr. Arjan De Wagt, Representative OIC, UNICEF, India Country Office, urged education planners and researchers to analyse the study’s findings and implement inclusive recovery strategies for improved access and quality.
Dr. Prema Nedungadi indicated that with the adoption of inclusive education, she stressed the need for NAS to be made accessible for students with disabilities, accounting for 10% of children. She added that their inclusion of data disaggregation by children with disabilities, similar to gender and socioeconomic data, was recommended in C20 G20.
Mr. Terry Durnnian, Chief, Education, UNICEF, proposes a reference group for NAS 2024, emphasising strategic integration, clarity on NAS’s purpose, policy improvement, and key connections for education optimisation. He reiterated that simple, understandable, clear, transparent data is crucial for meaningful NAS.
Prof. Indrani Bhaduri, Head, ESD and Head & CEO, PARAKH, NCERT, affirmed the decision to share NAS 2021 data and enhance the number of items starting from NAS 2024. She emphasised the significance of engaging with assessment partners and utilising our academic repository, highlighting the need for frequent and meaningful interactions.
The key takeaway from the roundtable on the National Achievement Survey (NAS) was the emphasis on the need to strengthen the assessment framework by increasing the number of items. Overall, NAS is a critical tool for guiding policy and improving education outcomes in India.