ASER 2018 is a nation-wide household survey that provides a snapshot of children’s schooling and learning for a representative sample of children across rural India. Children in the age group 3 to 16 are surveyed to find out their enrollment status in school or pre-school. Children in the age group 5 to 16 are assessed one-on-one to understand their basic reading and arithmetic abilities. ASER continues to be the only national source of information about children’s foundational skills across the country.
The methodology and content of ASER 2018 continues the pattern followed each year for the first decade of our existence (2005-2014), during which ASER reached almost all rural districts in India and generated district, state, and national estimates of foundational reading and arithmetic abilities of children in the age group 5 to 16 years. A total of 546,527 children in the age group 3 to 16 years were surveyed this year.
The testing process addresses ASER’s central question - are children acquiring foundational reading and arithmetic skills? The process is designed to record the highest level that each child can comfortably achieve. That is, rather than testing grade-level competencies, ASER is a ‘floor test’ focusing on basic learning. Testing is conducted at home, rather than in schools, so as to include out of school children and children attending different types of schools.
All children in the 5-16 age group in a sampled household are tested using the same tools, irrespective of age, grade, or schooling status. Children are assessed on basic reading and simple arithmetic. In 2018, ASER included a ‘bonus tool’ that tested children in the 14-16 age group on their ability to apply basic arithmetic skills to some everyday tasks.