Foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) proficiency is vital for students to remain in school, improve higher-order skills, secure a decent livelihood, and improving their social and health outcomes. In this ecosystem, assessments play a pivotal role in measuring and enhancing these FLN outcomes over time. In our previously published product, Assessments in Foundational Literacy and Numeracy, we explored the role of assessments and the status of existing tools in India by bringing out the challenges in this ecosystem. This primer dives deeper into the existing assessment toolkits available globally for multiple stakeholders.
An analysis of the existing toolkits indicates that these fall under one of the following categories: (i) Early Years Assessments (0-6 years); (ii) Formal Schooling Years Assessments (7-14 years); (iii) Assessments for Physically Challenged and (iv) Assessments for Adolescents and Adults (14 – 80 years). This primer describes 15 significant toolkits under these groups.
The Early Years Assessments toolkits focus on assessing the different domains of development such as physical, socio-emotional, cognitive and language development in children. These include the International Development and Early Learning Assessment (IDELA), Early Grades Reading Assessment (EGRA), Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ), and many more such toolkits. Formal Schooling Years toolkits focus on measuring the learning outcomes of diverse age groups, but are organised to capture the needs of various grades. These can be broadly divided into primary and secondary grades, and are critical to help make academic course corrections. The Early Grades Mathematics Assessments (EGMA), and ASER Beyond Basics are examples of this category. The third category of assessments for the physically challenged, also caters to learners across age groups, such as the Assessments for All (AFA) Toolkit. However, their focus is to gauge the special needs of people with disabilities so that learning processes can be made more inclusive and equitable. The final category of adolescent and adult assessments, such as the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy Test goes beyond the fundamental measure of FLN to evaluate the practical application of these skills in real-world scenarios. These tools help anchor adult literacy programmes which can enable adults to acquire functional skills to navigate life transactions.
There is room for improvement in the design and administration of these tools. The current assessment landscape falls short of:
- Simplicity and standardisation for nationwide formative and summative assessments
- Inclusivity in existing assessments for testing differently abled children
- Capacity building of assessors/teachers for establishing a strong assessment-to-action connection
Efforts in these areas would not only help achieve foundational learning outcomes but also help do it equitably and effectively.
Authors: Sukhada Ghosalkar and Shruti Hinge