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Learning levels: foundational skills in reading and arithmetic

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  • Published
    25th Jul, 2019

Reading:

The ASER reading test assesses whether a child can read letters, words, a simple paragraph at Std I level of difficulty, or a ‘story’ at Std II level of difficulty. The test is administered one on one to all children in the age group 5 to 16 and the child is marked at the highest level that she or he can reach.

  • Std III: The percentage of all children in Std III who can read at Std II level has been climbing slowly over the past few years. This figure has increased from 21.6% in 2013 to 23.6% in 2014 to 25.1% in 2016, and finally to 27.2% in 2018. Among children enrolled in Std III in government schools, six states (Punjab, Haryana, Mizoram, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Kerala) show an improvement of more than 5 percentage points over 2016 levels.
  • Std V: Slightly more than half of all children enrolled in Std V can read at least a Std II level text. This figure has inched up from 47.9% in 2016 to 50.3% in 2018. For government school children enrolled in Std V, states showing an increase of 5 percentage points or more from 2016 to 2018 are Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Arunachal Pradesh, and Mizoram; with Punjab and Andhra Pradesh close behind.
  • Std VIII: By Std VIII, the last year of compulsory schooling in India, children are expected not only to have mastered foundational skills but to have proceeded well beyond the basic stage. ASER 2018 data indicates that of all children enrolled in Std VIII in India, about 73% can read at least a Std II level text. This number is unchanged from 2016.

Arithmetic:

The ASER arithmetic test assesses whether a child can recognize numbers from 1 to 9, recognize numbers from 10 to 99, do a 2-digit numerical subtraction problem with borrowing, or correctly solve a numerical division problem (3- digit by 1-digit). The tasks are administered one on one to all children in the age group 5 to 16 and the child is marked at the highest level that she or he can reach.

  • Std III: The all India figure for children in Std III who are able to do at least subtraction has not changed much, from 27.6% in 2016 to 28.1% in 2018. For government school children, this figure was 20.3% in 2016 and 20.9% in 2018. However, government school children in some states are doing significantly better, with an increase of 3 percentage points or more over 2016. These include Punjab, Haryana, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Kerala.
  • Std V: The proportion of children in Std V across India who are able to do division has inched up slightly, from 26% in 2016 to 27.8% in 2018. But among government school children, some states have shown significant improvements of 5 percentage points or more over 2016 levels. These include Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
  • Std VIII: The overall performance of Std VIII in basic arithmetic has not changed much over time. Currently about 44% of all children in Std VIII can solve a 3-digit by 1-digit numerical division problem correctly. While this figure has gone down from 2016 to 2018 in many states, government school children in some states show substantial improvements in the last two years: for example, Punjab (from 48% to 58.4%), Uttar Pradesh (from 25.5% to 32%), Maharashtra (from 32.4% to 41.4%), and Tamil Nadu (from 42.6% to 49.6%).
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