Monday, December 19, 2011

[MLE] The outcome of the ASER Study in relation to Home-School language

Dear MLE Friends,

ASER Centre recently released Inside Primary Schools: A study of teaching and learning in rural India. Supported by UNICEF and UNESCO, this longitudinal study tracked 30,000 rural children studying in Std 2 and Std 4 in 900 schools across five states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan). These children, their classes, schools and families were tracked over a period of 15 months (2009-2010) in order to take a comprehensive look at the factors in the school, in the classroom and in the family that correlate with children’s learning outcomes. (See a summary of the outcomes below)

They also studied the difference between children whose home language is the same with children with a different home language. It makes clear that this indeed makes an impact on learning of the children. A quote:

Children whose home language is different from the school medium of instruction face enormous additional problems at school. Given the lack of bridging mechanisms to enable a smooth transition from one language to the other, these children tend to attend school far less regularly.  Whereas across both classes, about half of all children whose home language was the same as the school language were present in school on all  three visits, this proportion is far lower among children whose home language was different from the school language (Table 6.14). Learning outcomes for these two groups of children are unequal to begin with and these differences accentuate over the course of one year, both in Std 2 and in Std 4. (P 69)
The table attached shows  some relevant findings too. It  would be interesting to connect this data to drop-out rates too.


I was present at one of the initial meetings regarding this study at the UNICEF office. It has become a great study and thanks ASER, UNICEF and UNESCO for including this language related issue in the study!
Regards,

Karsten
PS On this item see also http://bolii.blogspot.com/


--
Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant
SIL Int., South Asia Group

This message is posted on: http://mle-india.blogspot.com/
Recommended sites: India: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/; International: http://www.mlenetwork.org/

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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [se-ed] Discussion: Teaching and Learning in Primary Schools in Rural India. Reply by 29th November2011
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 2011 10:57:52 +0100
From: Rukmini Banerji <rukmini.banerji@pratham.org>
Reply-To: Education Community <se-ed@solutionexchange-un.net.in>
To: Education Community <se-ed@solutionexchange-un.net.in>



Moderator’s Note: Dear Members, We are happy to post this new discussion issue raised by the colleagues from ASER Centre based on their recently concluded study on the status of teaching and learning in the rural areas of the country. The study was spread over a time period of 15 months and brought about several noteworthy issues as its outcome. Several issues identified by the study team would be very much familiar to many of you who have been working in the area of education for a long time. Whoever has seen the schools in rural India, interacted with students and teachers and tried to intervene in the situation for improvement would be able to relate one’s own experiences with it which happened with me as well when I read the study report. Undertaken in 5 states of India, this study opens up a number of questions to further deliberate upon. We invite our members to participate in the discussion and enrich the understanding through their inputs for the purposes of improvement in the status. Warm regards, Shubhangi          


Dear Members,

ASER Centre recently released Inside Primary Schools: A study of teaching and learning in rural India. Supported by UNICEF and UNESCO, this longitudinal study tracked 30,000 rural children studying in Std 2 and Std 4 in 900 schools across five states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himanchal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan). These children, their classes, schools and families were tracked over a period of 15 months (2009-2010) in order to take a comprehensive look at the factors in the school, in the classroom and in the family that correlate with children’s learning outcomes.

As the Right to Education Act is implemented across the country, empirical evidence on scale can orient policy and practice in order to successfully guarantee eight years of quality education to every child. This research provides important inputs for action. The evidence from this study suggests that five basic assumptions which underlie educational policy making and planning in India are not based on ground realities.

1.       The age/grade organization of schools does not match ground reality.   Few children currently in school are enrolled in the ‘age-appropriate grade’. Even fewer are at ‘grade-appropriate learning levels’. The research showed that within each grade, children vary enormously across a number of key dimensions. These include age, ability level, and the availability of print materials or academic support outside school.

2.       Textbooks have unrealistic expectations about what children can do and should learn during one year. In both language and math, textbooks in every state make assumptions about what children in any particular grade already know and how much they can learn in a year. Although our research showed that children’s learning levels improved over the course of a year, in every state most children are at least two grades below the level of proficiency assumed by their textbooks.

3.       Teachers’ ability to teach matters. But educational and professional qualifications do not guarantee effective teaching. The study indicates that the current nature of qualifications and usual types of teacher training are not sufficient to guarantee effective teaching. What does correlate with learning outcomes is teachers’ ability to teach. This study measured ‘teaching capability’ across four dimensions: content knowledge, ability to spot mistakes commonly made by children, ability to explain textbook content in simple language or in easy steps, and ability to create questions or activities for children.

4.       Teachers understand the importance of ‘child friendly’ practices.  But most classrooms are not child friendly at all.  Both the National Curriculum Framework and the RTE Act (2009) stress the importance of child-centred and child-friendly classrooms. As part of this study, a simple checklist of six easily observable indicators was used to assess ‘child friendliness’. Analysis of data from 850 hours of classroom observation shows that these characteristics are rarely observed in primary school classrooms, although there is considerable variation across states. But where child friendly classrooms were observed we found these characteristics to be strongly correlated with student learning outcomes.

5.       Attendance matters. Children who attend regularly have better learning outcomes. This study tracked almost 30,000 children individually on each of three visits to their schools. When analyzed in relation to their baseline and endline learning outcomes, a clear pattern emerges: children who attended school regularly had better learning outcomes than those who did not. This is particularly true in Std 4, where curriculum content is more difficult than in Std 2.

These data highlight the most critical challenge in Indian school education today: how to guarantee age-appropriate education for all. Quality education implies that children reach grade level standards. The evidence generated by this study points to two options which are not mutually exclusive. Either we need to develop teaching-learning processes and teacher capability to enable children to reach expected standards. Or we can use such findings to design standards and curriculum, content and textbooks, keeping in mind what the majority of children can currently cope with and build from there. In either case, it is important to base decision making on ground realities via the collection of empirical evidence on scale.

We invite discussion on these issues. Specifically, we would like to have members’ inputs on the following:
·                                  
  • What do you think about the above referred findings of the study? 
  • What according to you can be done to guarantee age appropriate quality education to all children in rural areas?  
  • Based on your experience, are there any other assumptions which ought to be questioned, and other evidence which supports this questioning?  

Your inputs will immensely enrich the existing knowledge base and would help better planning of education in rural areas.    

Regards,

Rukmini Banerji and Suman Bhattacharjea
PRATHAM, ASER Center
New Delhi



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