LSA Working Papers

Issue 2: Student Learning in Metros
How well are students in our ‘top’ schools learning? In order to try and understand this, Educational Initiatives and Wipro Ltd. conducted a benchmarking study between February-April 2006 that tested over 32,000 students from 142 leading schools in five metros – Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, and Bengaluru. The results suggest that rote learning dominates learning even in our top schools, and the study was consequently featured as the cover story in the November 2006 issue of India Today magazine. In a follow-up study in 2011, EI conducted a Quality Education Study.

Issue 3: A Personalised Adaptive Learning System for Students
It is being increasingly understood and accepted that the quality of learning in the country today is unacceptably poor. The goal, clearly, is to provide quality education and at scale. We present here a solution – Mindspark – which we believe is educationally-rich and technologically-supported. It is a computer-based, adaptive learning solution designed to allow the child to learn at her own pace and to serve, wherever possible, to supplement, not replace classroom learning. This paper summaries two interesting pilot studies conducted to track the learning progress in rural and municipal school students due to engagement with Mindspark.

Issue 4: Student Progress Tracking System
This working paper is about the technique of longitudinal evaluation using a Student Progress Tracking System, which is an online system that tracks year-on-year progress of students on scholastic and co-scholastic (co-curricular) skills. SPTS comprises a comprehensive database of students, teachers and schools. The system can help policy makers, school managements and teachers get accurate data for taking timely decisions. Such systems are becoming critical if large scale education systems have to move from providing access to providing quality education. EI uses this system in our analysis of the Annual Status of Student Learning in Bhutan.

Issue 5: Interviewing Students to Understand Their Thinking on Key Concepts
As students observe and experience various things in their day-to-day lives, they formulate their own notions, attribute meanings, and infer various concepts well before they are ‘taught’ to them. These understandings may or may not be scientifically correct. As a follow-up to our large scale assessment studies, Educational Initiatives, along with other partners, interviews students of different classes. Through this we gather more information on the ways in which students think about and answer different questions, and assess the sources of various misconceptions to improve teaching techniques and student learning.

Issue 6: Municipal School Benchmarking Study
National level benchmarking achievement studies, that provide detailed and granular information and insights into how our children are learning, can provide powerful ‘data-driven’ insights into the existing learning gaps – for students to learn better, teachers to teach better, and schools and policy makers to operate more efficiently. This study assessed students in urban local body schools of 30 towns of India with respect to specific skills and competencies that they were expected to have acquired. The assessment data of the study can be filtered state-wise, town-wise, schoolwise, student-wise, gender-wise, skill-wise subject-wise for Language, Maths and EVS and class-wise for classes 2, 4 and 6 here.

Issue 7: Question making Competitions For Teachers
A good question tests if a child has really understood concepts rather than just memorized or recalled the facts. But it is often found that there is a large gap between teaching and meaningful assessment – the fact that assessment could be used as a very powerful tool in reinforcing learning and encouraging concept application orientation in students is mostly not exploited. This paper describes a nationwide contest that promotes good question-making as a student assessment tool among teachers as a method by which quality of student learning could be enhanced.
Educational Initiatives carries out the ASSET national Question Making Competition between July and November every year.

Issue 8: Teacher Needs Assessment
Investments in teacher training are not showing clear returns in increased student achievement levels. Teachers in many cases are in need of specific feedback – which will provide them insights on where, what and how to improve their own abilities in order to function with effectiveness. A Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA) that identifies common strengths or weaknesses among teachers, provides feedback to individual teachers, and recommends specific system level interventions for teacher improvement assumes relevance in this scenario. This working paper shares EI’s experience in designing and carrying out Teacher Needs Assessment in India and Bhutan.

Issue 9: Student Learning Study
Student Learning Study (SLS) was a benchmarking study of student learning conducted by Educational Initiatives, between Jan 2008-December 2009, with financial support from, USA. The test was developed in 13 languages and administered to more than 1 lakh students across India, in about 2399 schools in 48 districts in the 18 participating states and 1 Union territory. This is a diagnostic study which provides granular information on the quality of children’s learning and this provides insights that can help various stakeholders – ranging from policy makers to curriculum designers to teachers and parents – take appropriate steps to improve educational quality.

Issue 10: Scale Anchoring
Student Learning Study is the first comprehensive national study of Indian states that attempts to explain the performances in terms of what students know and are able to do. The results clearly show which concepts or topics are understood only by students performing at higher levels and which topics are understood by other students also. Certain topics are said to ‘anchor’ at certain percentile levels of performance – 90th percentile (advanced), 75th percentile (high), 50th percentile (intermediate), and 25th percentile (low). Insights provided by the Scale Anchoring process can help us understand the way children learn, and plan scientific remediation.

Performance Of Indian States, Issue 11
This working paper is a sequel to the last two papers on the Student Learning Study, and explores the performance of the different Indian states that participated in the study. Although comparisons of performance are provided in this paper for the purpose of creating cross-learning and remedial opportunities, it is to be noted that the overall learning level of even the best performing states is low and renders much scope for learning improvement. This study produced the empirical backing for the idea that that there are significant state-wise differences in student academic achievement.

Issue 12: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
This working paper is about the Trends in International Mathematics and Sciences Study (TIMSS) which is an international assessment of student achievement in Maths and Science conducted every four years since 1995. This working paper explains the main characteristics and results provided by TIMSS with a special focus on the Maths results from the latest 2007 study. Good practices based on the TIMSS results and the relevance of these type of studies for India are also discussed. The assessment work of Educational Initiatives is inspired in parts by studies like TIMSS.

Issue 13: Capacity Building for Teachers
The training needs of teachers in India’s government schools are truly daunting. There are several issues involving the building of an effective model and mechanism that would develop and enhance the teachers’ capacity and provide them avenues for professional development. This working paper explores a few innovative international examples and EI’s experiences in enhancing teacher capacity. Educational Initiatives, for many years, has been focussed on building Teacher capacity through student and teacher assessments, training workshops and teacher observation programmes. These are undertaken for both private and public school systems in India, Bhutan and Middle East.

Issue 14: Quality Education Study – Student Learning Outcomes
Quality Education Study (QES) aims to find answers to what constitutes ‘Quality Education’. This study has been conceptualized and managed jointly by Wipro and Educational Initiatives (EI) and the execution was carried out by EI. QES tries to expand the meaning of ‘quality’ in education to include educational outcomes beyond student performance in subjects and study the attributes of quality learning environments. In a limited sense, this study shares the findings based on the large scale study of the scholastic, co-scholastic and affective outcomes and the different aspects of the learning environments found in India’s ‘top’ schools. These ‘top’ schools in our largest cities arguably represent the best education that is available in the county.In this working paper, we will discuss only the scholastic aspect of these learning environments.

Issue 15: Strengthening Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education Through a Benchmarking Study of Student Learning Outcomes

India’s participation in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) for 15 year old students in 2009 showed that our brightest ones were nearly 1 standard deviation behind the best students of the world, while our average students were 0.5 standard deviation behind the world’s weakest students. As a country we need to address the quality of learning effectively and, – fundamental issues needs to be recognised. These issues are – rote learning, lack of data-based evidence, – and the absence of systemic monitoring. Assessments of student learning have now gained prominence for this purpose. But there is a paucity of data on learning outcomes at the secondary level. With these issues in mind, MacArthur Foundation – with its focus on secondary education – commissioned Educational Initiatives to conduct an assessment to benchmark learning levels in secondary schools – grades 9 & 10 in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in 2013-14. The study covered more than 50,000 students across 800 government and Affordable Private Schools (APS).

Issue 16: Shiksha Setu – Learning Assessment & Learning Improvement Programme
The Shiksha Setu project in 21 government primary schools in Gujarat obtained visible and measurable improvement in the learning levels of students of classes 3 to 8. This was done over a 5-year period starting from 2011 using multi-pronged approach of (1) using Mindspark – a personalized adpative learning program (2) Teacher training on pedagogy and content (3) assessments used for tracking and making program changes.


Issue 17: Student Assessments in Bihar
To improve learning outcomes in Bihar through assessment based insights, BEPC initiated two state wide assessments – (1) Sample Diagnostic Assessment and (2) Census Assessment. This research study on the student learning outcomes in the elementary classes in the state of Bihar was a joint initiative undertaken by the BEPC, State Council for Education Research and Training, Bihar (SCERT) and Educational Initiatives (EI). The purpose of the study was to affect policy and strategic changes for improving student learning levels at the elementary level. This working paper showcases the features, findings and recommendations from the research study.

Issue 18 – Defining Excellence in Education Through Relevant Benchmarks in India

EI, in partnership with MSDF conducted the research study “Establishing Benchmarks of Student Learning” which tried to address these very issues. This paper discusses ways in which educators can overcome the above challenges by using the results of this study.
Benchmarking implies comparing a performance to a pre-defined standard in order to evaluate achievement levels. Though some educators object to benchmarking saying that no two students are same and hence should not be compared, the real purpose of benchmarking is not to compare students. Benchmarking should be used as a tool to measure the academic growth of students and design customized curriculums to match each student’s learning needs.

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Established in 2001, Educational Initiatives believes in making a difference in education through personalised learning and ensuring that students learn with understanding.