Mid-Term Assessment Survey : An Appraisal of Students Achievement

By Ved Prakash, S. K. S. Gautam, I. K. Bansal and M. Bhalla, NCERT, New Delhi, Published by Educational Consultants India Limited, 1998, New Delhi, p111.

As per the provisions of the DPEP guidelines, it is obligatory that the level of success of DPEP interventions may be assessed after a period of three years of their implementation. In order to fulfill this requirement, another study by the name of Mid-Term Assessment Survey (MAS) was launched in the year 1997 in all the forty two districts under phase-I. This study aimed at measuring the average performance of studentís achievement on the newly developed competency based achievement tests in language and mathematics at the end of class I and at the end of the penultimate class of primary school. Besides, the study also made an attempt to make a comparative analysis of students' achievement on the BAS tests administered during the initial survey in the year 1994 with that of students' achievement on the same set of tests re-administered to the students of five schools that were randomly selected from the sample of MAS 97. The study also attempted to compare the differences in students' achievement on the MAS tests in regard to gender and social groups. The MAS with its entire gamut of activities was conducted for not only assessing students' achievement on the newly composed set of tests but also attempted to identifying one, the inadequacies, if any, in the programme which would serves as pointers to planning mid course corrections, two, to eliminate activities which were counter productive and finally to discover new areas of operation which were, hitherto, unexplored.

The MAS was conducted in 1997 by employing a multistage stratified random sampling technique. It is pertinent to mention here that the tests employed under MAS 1997, developed by the Ed.CIL, were different from those used under BAS 1994. The NCERT in the capacity of the nodal agency developed the design, instruments, framework of data analyses and other complementary materials for administration during the survey. The responsibility of the training of the Master Trainers at the state level and the monitoring of the progress of the study was shouldered by the DPEP Core Resource Group of the NCERT. The MAS was conducted by the states with the academic support of the DPEP Core Resource Group.

The present study makes an effort to providing an overview of the findings gathered from the data of seven DPEP Phase I states. The MAS data covered 66831 students, 6221 teachers and 2068 schools spread over 42 districts across seven DPEP Phase I states. A cursory glance at the average performance of class I students reflected on MAS confirms the predominant influence of the element of contextuality that prevails over the primary school system in the country. This fact is obvious from the range of students' achievement that varies within and across the states.

In the state of Assam, the average performance of class I students on MAS tests has crossed 67% mark in language and 71% in mathematics with district Morigaon taking the lead. In Haryana, it has crossed 63% in language and 70% in mathematics with Sirsa and Kaithal capturing the top position in language and mathematics respectively. In Karnataka, it has crossed 61% both in language and mathematics with Belgaum claiming the ace position. In Kerala, it has crossed 69% in language and 66% in mathematics with Malappuram rendering superior performance. In the state of Madhya Pradesh the students' performance has crossed 44% in language and 36% in mathematics with Bilaspur capturing the top position in both the subjects. In Maharashtra, it has crossed 58% in language and 52% in mathematics with Osmanabad giving a head start. In the state of Tamil Nadu, it has crossed 56% in language and 52% in mathematics with Villupuram establishing a record. Significantly, in all the states it has been observed that there is a streak of relationship between language and mathematics in their pattern of growth. As regards the distribution of achievement scores, the entire range has been utilized in both the subjects in all the states except in language in Madhya Pradesh and the higher range has claimed maximum number of cases in most of the states. Besides, positive upward progression of frequencies has been observed against higher intervals, which tends to producing negatively skewed distribution in a large number of cases.

The average performance of class III students on MAS tests reveals that in Assam it has crossed 57% mark in language and 55% in mathematics with Morigaon and Dhubri sharing the top position in language and mathematics respectively. In Karnataka, it has crossed 37% in language and 33% in mathematics with Belgaum taking the lead. In the state of Kerala, it has crossed 49% in language and 37% in mathematics with Malappuram and Kasargod sharing the top position in language and mathematics respectively. In Maharashtra, it has crossed 36% in language and 23% in mathematics with Aurangabad capturing the ace position in both the subjects. Sequential pattern of growth in both the subjects across the districts has been observed in the case of Karnataka and Maharashtra. As regards the distribution of achievement scores in language and mathematics, the entire range has been utilized by all the four states. In contrast to class I, higher range in class III has claimed least number of cases in three out of four states. Distribution of achievement scores has tended to producing a non skewed distribution in Assam in both the subjects, only in language in Kerala and Maharashtra and in the rest it has tended to producing positively skewed distribution.

The average performance of class IV students on MAS tests reveals that in Haryana, it has crossed 37% mark in language and 39% in mathematics with Sirsa bagging the top position. In Madhya Pradesh, it has crossed 30% mark in language and 20% in mathematics with Bilaspur coming through as a winner in both the subjects. In Tamil Nadu, it has crossed 43% mark in language and 30% mark in mathematics with Cuddalore and Villupuram sharing the ace position in language and mathematics respectively. Sequential growth pattern in both the subjects across the districts has been observed only in the case of Haryana. The distribution of scores reveals that the entire range has been utilized in both the subjects in Tamil Nadu and only in mathematics in Haryana. Further, achievement scores have tended to produce non-skewed distribution in both the subjects in Tamil Nadu & Madhya Pradesh and in mathematics in Haryana. Distribution of scores in language in Haryana has tended to produce a positively skewed distribution.

A comparison of students' performance in language in class I on BAS tests administered during the initial survey in 1994 and read ministered under Mid-Term Survey in 1997 have revealed positive trends in 28 out of 42 districts. Of these 28 districts, 19 districts have demonstrated significant hike in achievement in language. Of all the districts, 6 districts have recorded a hike in achievement that ranged from 25% to 36%, 10 districts from 10% to 25%, 12 districts up to 10%. However, in the case of 14 districts, achievement has suffered a decline that ranged from 0% to 18%. In case of mathematics, 33 out of 42 districts have displayed positive trends, of them, 30 showed significant improvement in students' performance. Of all the districts, in 9 districts the hike in achievement has ranged from 25% to 44%, in 18 districts from 10% to 25% and in six district up to 10%. Of the remaining districts, one district in Kerala and six in Madhya Pradesh have shown a significant decline in performance.

A comparative analyses of students' achievement in language in class III on BAS tests administered during the initial survey in 1994 and re-administered during mid-term survey in 1997 reveal that 13 out of 15 districts in four states have demonstrated positive trends and negative trends in the remaining two. Of the districts showing a positive trend, the hike in students' achievement has been significant in 12 districts. The range of hike has been from 25-38% in two districts, 10-25% in seven districts and up to 10% in the remaining four districts.. Even the two districts, which have shown a decline in performance, the decline has not been found significant. A comparative assessment of students' achievement in mathematics in class III indicates that 11 out of 15 districts have exhibited positive trends and the remaining four negative trends. Of the eleven districts with positive trends, nine have displayed a significant improvement in students' achievement. Of all the districts, six districts have recorded a hike in achievement ranging from 10% to 29% and five districts up to 10%. Out of the four districts with negative trends, three have shown significant decline in students' achievement in mathematics.

Comparative assessment of class IV students' achievement in language reveals that 18 out of 27 districts have demonstrated positive trends, of them 15 displayed significant improvement. In seven districts, the hike in achievement ranged from 10 - 21% and in 11 districts up to 10%. Two districts in Haryana and six in Madhya Pradesh have, however, displayed a significant decline. In mathematics, 18 out of 27 districts have portrayed positive trends, of them, 14 districts exhibited significant improvement in students performance. The hike in achievement has varied from 10 - 24% in four districts and up to ten percent in fourteen districts. One district in Haryana and six in Madhya Pradesh have exhibited a significant decline.

On comparison of performance of class I students (1997 vs 1994) both in language and mathematics, it is evident that 28 out of 42 districts in language and 33 out of 42 in mathematics have registered a positive incline in achievement. The decline in performance in other districts may be partly attributed to the non compatibility between the test contents based on the 1994 existing syllabi with the instructional material based on the 1997 revised syllabi. It may be pertinent to mention here that the BAS tests used in 1994 and in 1997 were developed in the year 1993-94, obviously, on the then prevailing syllabi. By 1997, several states have undergone a change in their curriculum and instructional material under the aegis of the DPEP. Those districts and states that could enable their students to acquire the basic competencies through the DPEP interventions, thus striking a balance between the test contents and the changed course contents seem to have performed better than others.

The analysis of the comparative performance of class III students on 1997 vs 1994 achievement tests reveal positive trends in 13 out of 15 districts in language and in 11 out of 15 districts in mathematics in four states. In class IV positive trends have been observed in 18 out of 27 districts in language and equal number of districts in mathematics in three states. The reason for "no hike" situation prevailing in other districts may be due to the variations between the test contents developed in the year 1990 based on the then existing syllabi and the revised course contents transacted in the year 1997. The districts where the DPEP interventions were able to develop the basic competencies amongst the students to such a level where they became competent to handle any kind of test items related to curriculum relevant competencies seem to have made an edge over others in their performance.

Analysis of results reveal that the performance of students in class I on MAS tests both in language and mathematics has been better than the performance of students in classes III and IV. It signifies that the pedagogical renewal processes have not shown as good results in the penultimate classes as they have shown in class I across the states. This calls for focussed attention on the implementation of research based interventions in classes III and IV.

The DPEP goal of reducing the differences in achievement between boys and girls in class I has been accomplished in 40 out of 42 districts in language and in 31 out of 42 districts in mathematics across seven states. Gender-wise differences in achievement in class III signify that the DPEP goal of reducing the achievement gaps has been overcome in 14 out of 15 districts in language and in all the 15 districts in mathematics across four states. Differences in achievement between gender in language in class IV have been reduced in 24 out of 27 districts and in mathematics in 25 out of 27 districts of the states of Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

The DPEP goal of reducing the achievement differences between urban and rural students in class I has been realized in 20 out of 42 districts in language and in 16 out of 42 districts in mathematics across seven states. In class III, the differences in achievement between urban and rural students have been reduced to less than five percent limit of the DPEP in 4 out of 15 districts in language and in 5 out of 15 districts in mathematics across four states. The goal of the DPEP of reducing the area-wise differences in achievement has been attained in 22 out of 27 districts in language and i

n 18 out of 27 districts in mathematics in class IV.

The DPEP goal of reducing the achievement differences between SC and others and between ST and others in class I in language has been reached in 21 out of 42 districts in seven states and in 17 out of 31 districts in four states respectively. In class .1 in mathematics, the goal has been realized in 22 out of 42 districts in seven states between SC and others and in 15 out of 31 districts in four states between ST and others.

The DPEP goal of reducing differences among social groups in class III in language has been realized in 13 out of 15 districts between SC and others and in 9 out of 15 districts between ST and others in four states. In class III mathematics, it has been achieved in 13 out of 15 districts between SC and others and in 11 out of 15 districts between ST and others in four states. In class IV in language, the DPEP goal of reducing differences in achievement among social groups has been overcome in 23 out of 27 districts between SC and others and in 14 out of 27 districts between ST and others. In class IV in mathematics, the goal has been reached in 19 out of 27 districts between SC and others and in 11 out of 27 districts between ST and others.

In all those districts where the DPEP goal of reducing the differences in achievement both in language and mathematics among gender and social groups has not yet been achieved, concerted efforts need to be made with a view to achieving the target. As regards the influence of parental qualifications on the achievement of students of penultimate classes in both the subjects, an incremental influence in achievement has been observed in all the districts of Kerala, in four districts of Maharashtra and in one district each of Assam and Karnataka. The states of Haryana and Tamil Nadu have, however, demonstrated mixed results with more number of positive cases.

The difference between the language used at and the medium of instruction at school has not created any adverse impact on students' achievement in all the three districts of Kerala, in three out of four districts of Karnataka, in all the five districts in Maharashtra, in seven out of eight cases in Haryana and in seven out of eight cases in Tamil Nadu. Apparently, in most cases the difference between the language spoken at and the medium of instruction at school has failed to cast any negative influence on students' achievement in both the subjects.

On the issue of the influence of the availability of competency based teaching learning material on students' achievement, it has been observed that districts having maximum number of schools holding the complete range of competency based materials perform better than their counterpart. It goes to prove that the students' achievement stands positively related to the availability of competency-based teaching learning materials. The account of in service training of sampled teachers during the last three years reveals that all urban teachers hailing from all the three districts of Kerala, two each of Assam and Tamil Nadu, one of Haryana and three of Madhya Pradesh have received in service training during the past three years. Of the remaining districts, some of them have reported substantial number of untrained teachers. In the rural sector, in 24 out of 42 districts, ninety percent of teachers are reported to have received in service training. Kerala has the singular distinction of setting a record in providing in service training to most of its teachers both in urban and rural sectors. The analysis of results indicates moderate influence of in service training on students' achievement. It calls for need based district specific recurrent training for all teachers.

Teachers' perceptions on in service training programmes reveal that these programmes have shown an incremental influence on teaching of language and mathematics in all the districts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, three districts of Haryana, one district each of Kerala and Assam and eleven districts of Madhya Pradesh.

Sustained efforts are required to maintain the tempo of progress in high achieving districts and spirited intervention efforts in low achieving districts. Poor performance of students at the penultimate stage invites focussed attention on the implementation of research based interventions in classes III and IV. Greater emphasis may be laid on intensive coaching and cooperative learning with a view to enabling students to deal any kind of test items related to competencies laid down in their curriculum. Besides, extra drills, supervised study programmes, proliferation of local specific instructional material, purposeful reinforcement and motivation may be made an integral part of teaching learning process.

The data from all the low performing districts need to be thoroughly re-analyzed with a view to identifying the weak links and to applying corrective measures in each area of operation.

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