Explicit tests and exams are completely inappropriate assessment tools for children up to class 2, and written tests should be introduced from class 3 onwards, according to the draught National Curriculum Framework (NCF), emphasising that assessment methods should not add any additional burden to the child.
The framework being developed in accordance with the new National Education Policy (NEP) suggests that two important methods of assessment appropriate for the foundational stage are observations of the child and analysis of artefacts produced by the child as part of their learning experience.
Explicit tests and examinations, according to the draught, are completely inappropriate assessment tools for the Foundational stage (preschool to class 2). “Assessment should account for differences in children’s learning and development.” Children learn and express themselves differently than adults. A learning outcome or competency can be assessed in a variety of ways. The teacher should be able to create various types of assessments for the same learning outcome and use each assessment appropriately.
“Assessment should allow for the recording and documentation of results.” The development of children should be described and analysed using a systematic collection of evidence. Assessment should not add any additional burden to the child’s life. “Assessment tools and processes should be designed in such a way that they are a natural extension of the child’s learning experience,” it adds.
The draught recommends that “written tests be introduced at this stage” when describing the assessment for the preparatory stage (classes 3 to 5). “ To promote learning, a variety of assessment methods should be used. Portfolios can be used to document students’ overall progress through their work. This could also provide parents with a reliable picture of their children’s learning. Peer and self-assessments could also be used to help students track the progression of their own learning.
“At the end of the preparatory stage, there should be a comprehensive summative assessment of the student’s readiness to enter the middle stage, which introduces several new curricular areas,” it continues. On Thursday, the education ministry released a “pre-draft” of the NCF for school education and invited feedback from stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, and scholars.
According to the draught prepared by a panel led by former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, the focus of the curriculum should shift to conceptual understanding and higher order capacities in the middle stage (class 6 to 8). “As a result, projects, debates, presentations, experiments, investigations, role plays, journals, and portfolios should be used in the classroom to assess learning.” At this stage, regular summative assessments will assist students in synthesising their learning at logical intervals such as year-end, term-end, and unit-end. Summative assessments, which include multiple-choice questions and constructed responses such as short and long answers, may be used on a regular basis, according to the policy.
The panel has stated that comprehensive classroom assessments should be used effectively in the secondary stage (classes 9 to 12) to facilitate meaningful learning and constructive feedback. Summative assessments should be administered on a regular basis to track students’ progress against competencies. “At this stage, self-assessment will be critical in student learning.” Students should be encouraged to monitor what they are learning and use the feedback from this monitoring to adjust, adapt, and decide on their own learning strategies.
“To assess competencies, summative assessments can be designed using case-based questions, simulations, and essay-type questions.” At this point, students should also be prepared to take board exams and other selection tests in order to gain access to higher education and employment opportunities,” the draught adds.
According to ministry officials, the new NCF textbooks will be introduced next year. The Education Ministry has created four NCFs based on the 5+3+3+4 curricular and pedagogical structure recommended by NEP 2020 for school education.
In October 2022, the ministry launched the NCF for foundational stage (NCF-FS) for children aged 3 to 8 years. The next NCF for school education is being prepared in accordance with that policy. The pre-draft recommends revamping class 10 and 12 board exams, aligning the shift from 10+2 structure to 5+3+3+4 structure, and emphasising developmental perspectives by suggesting curricular and pedagogical shifts at different stages – foundational, preparatory, middle, and secondary. The NCF was updated four times: in 1975, 1988, 2000, and 2005. The new proposed revision will be the framework’s fifth.