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National Achievement Survey - Scrutinizing Efficacy of School Education

--- By Monika Antil

The Ministry of Education undertakes the National Achievement Survey (NAS) to evaluate students' knowledge during their academic years. As Doctors can gauge human health, similarly, The National Achievement Survey (NAS) aims to estimate the health of the school education system. It is the largest survey conducted all over India by the Ministry of Education. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) is scientifically designed and consists of three phases of the NAS exercise, namely instrument development, sampling design, and actual administration of the test. This survey reflects the effectiveness of school-level education that assists the government to take remedial steps to improve the quality and equity in education at the school level. The NAS was conducted in the year 2001 for the first time and it is conducted after every three years. It was designed by the Ministry of Education and the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT). In a nutshell, it provides structural feedback about student learning.

The National Achievement Survey (NAS) in 2021 was conducted on the second Friday of November. The assessment framework of NAS assesses the capability of students in grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. For grades 3 and 5, the subjects are language, EVS, and Mathematics. For grades 8 and 10, the subjects are Science, Mathematics, Social Science, and English. This national-level survey was conducted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as assessment administrator for Grade 3, 5, 8, and 10 students of State Govt. schools, Govt. Aided schools, Private Unaided recognized schools, and Central Government schools. It was conducted in a strictly monitored environment in the sampled schools in 22 mediums of instruction as available. The covered mediums were English, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Manipuri, Mizo, Punjabi, Odia, Telugu, Tamil, Bodo, Urdu, Garo, Konkani, Khasi, Bhutia, Nepali, and Lepcha. The NAS focuses on providing the exact information about the student's knowledge in their respective grades and subjects.

The Ministry of Education in a statement said that “As per the initial estimates received from 24 states/ Union Territories nearly 96 percent of the sampled schools and nearly 92 percent of the targeted sampled children, of classes 3, 5, 8, and 10 participated in the survey. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) is a process of gathering information to develop a deep understanding of what students know, understand, and can do with their knowledge as a result of their educational experiences''. Further, it added, "This process will ultimately culminate to improve the subsequent students' learning and development, through systemic interventions."

The National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021 is very significant as it was necessary to analyse the education system before and after the lockdown to evaluate children’s progress after shifting offline classes to online platforms. It also highlights the consequences of COVID-19. This survey will help the government to form a strategy that will deal with the problems created by the prolonged closure of schools. The key highlight of NAS 2021 is that the performance of students declined in almost all subjects and for all grades. In comparison to the urban areas, the average performance of schools in rural areas remained significantly low and the performance of students from scheduled caste (SC), scheduled tribe (ST), and other backward classes (OBC) also remained lower than the students from the general category. Whereas the performance of girls was noted to be better than that of boys. Most of the students believed that the online classes were a burden for them with a lot of assignments.

The most significant feature of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) is that it straightens out the gap in learning, which will help the government to develop intervention and reformative strategies to improve the learning level. The National Achievement Survey (NAS) also helps the government to know the effectiveness of the strategies that were implemented last time and assists in the capacity building of teachers and officials that are involved in the education system. The National Achievement survey, conducted in 2021 would be a very valuable piece of evidence and data points improving the scope of research and development. Every citizen/student is required to understand the importance of the National Achievement Survey (NAS) as it helps the government to recognize the existing problem of the school-level education system in a better way. The government can come up with remedies for the problem only if the government is aware of the root problems. If we want to improve our education system then it is every student's responsibility to participate in the survey. So, the NAS findings can help the government determine the learning gaps of the students and failings of the education system. It can also help the government to come up with the bestrequired education policies in the present and future.

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