Himachal Pradesh: Placing large-scale assessments at the core of student learning

Beginning in 2013, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) allocated budgets to states to conduct State Learning Achievement Surveys (SLAS) to assess student learning at district and sub-district levels. Many states began conducting their SLAS in 2013-14, with some states even setting broad learning goals in their Annual Work Plan & Budgets.

Himachal Pradesh (HP) is one state to take the lead in the implementation of SLAS. The state started conducting census-based assessments covering all students in elementary school in 2013-2014 and has developed reports to determine student performance in various subjects at different grade levels.

In October 2014, the Government of Himachal Pradesh invited Central Square Foundation (CSF) to be part of a Project Management Unit (PMU) to work on strengthening SLAS in the state. As part of the PMU, CSF along with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, Educational Initiatives and Learning Links Foundation, is supporting the HP government to conduct rigorous SLAS and use the results for decision making, including policy initiatives, teacher training and learning improvement programmes.

Our efforts focus on:

  • Consolidating learnings from state-led assessments already conducted
  • Designing a robust, large-scale assessment process incorporating learnings from other states and global best practices
  • Identifying gaps where capacity building and technical assistance are needed and suggesting necessary interventions to address these issues

In November 2014, CSF conducted a vision workshop with the State Project Director and senior Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan members and teachers from Himachal Pradesh. The objective of the workshop was to define the scope of the programme to further strengthen Himachal Pradesh large-scale assessments. The discussion centred on:

  • Defining a roadmap for the state leadership to design large-scale assessments that suit their purpose
  • Enabling the state team to understand the key elements of conducting a rigorous large-scale assessment and defining the scope of external interventions and support that are required
  • Creating a request for proposal for inviting tenders from specialised agencies and experts to conduct the SLAS

The state team shared their experiences and learning from the previous efforts around state-conducted assessments and invited input on ideas to strengthen the state capacity for implementing assessments and using the results to effect change. The workshop also included a discussion of best practices from other states in India and abroad.
As a next step, Central Square Foundation and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, with technical inputs from Educational Initiatives and Learning Links Foundation, are developing a framework for the Himachal Pradesh government which will be presented to MHRD and other organisations for further support required by the state in implementing rigorous SLAS.