Reviewing the new student assessment scheme for J&K schools

The SA&ES is a holistic document covering a range of issues concerning a child’s academic assessment right from the foundational stage. The authorities need to ensure its implementation by augmenting infrastructure and facilities across schools
The Document has urged the Heads of Schools/Complex Heads to ensure that the results of Classes 5th and 8th shall be prepared mainly on the basis of academic performance of the student throughout the year.
The Document has urged the Heads of Schools/Complex Heads to ensure that the results of Classes 5th and 8th shall be prepared mainly on the basis of academic performance of the student throughout the year.Mir Imran/GK File

Taking a step further towards implementation of the National Education Policy-2020 in Jammu and Kashmir, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has notified the ‘Student Assessment and Evaluation Scheme’ (SA&ES), up to class 8th for government and government-recognised schools of the Union Territory.

In this regard, the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) issued a detailed notification on December 22, 2022, containing the SOPs and the Scheme Framework, which is in accordance with the provisions in NEP-2020 and Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2019.

A detailed analysis of the document reveals that the Government is focussing on the paradigm shift from rote learning to experiential learning in schooling as envisaged in the NEP-2020.

The Document has urged the Heads of Schools/Complex Heads to ensure that the results of Classes 5th and 8th shall be prepared mainly on the basis of academic performance of the student throughout the year.

“Uniform question papers to be prescribed by SCERT for Year End Assessment for Classes 5th and 8th. Students (Potential Learners) are to be identified on the basis of performance/competency in assessment,” the document reads, adding that the students shall be promoted to the next class on provisional basis with arraignment for special teaching of two to three months during vacations/beginning of next session followed by re-assessment for grade appropriate competencies. “And in case of inability to meet the qualification criteria in such a re-assessment tool, the student shall be detained.”

The SA&ES shall be implemented from academic session 2023-2024 across J&K UT, reads the document which has been issued “with the approval of the competent authority.”

The Annexure-A of the scheme details out the Scheme Framework which urges greater efforts to “encourage students to reach class 9th with a particular focus on regular assessment, evaluation and remedial teaching.”

“The paradigm shift from ‘Assessment to Learning’ to ‘Assessment for Learning’ is to ensure that assessment serves its basic purpose in the education system,” the Scheme Framework says, adding that diagnostic tools necessitate both assessment as learning, assessment of learning and assessment for learning.

“Primary objective of the education system is not meant to test what the student has been taught or to bring a child under stress but instead to identify potential learners and organize remedial teaching on a sustained basis as an integral part of the learning process,” the document reads.

Notably, the NEP 2020 envisages modification of existing 10+2 pattern in school education with a new curricular and pedagogical structure of 5+3+3+4 design, with the following break-up:

1. Foundational Stage of 5 years in two parts, with 3 years of Anganwari/Pre-School plus 2 years in primary school in grades (I and II) covering age group 3-8 years

2. Preparatory Stage of 3 years from Grades (III to V), covering age group of 8-11 years

3. Middle Stage of 3 years from Grades (VI-VIII), covering age group 11-14 years

4. Secondary Stage Grades (IX-VIII) in 2 phases (i.2. Grade IX and X in Phase I and Grade XI and XII in Phase II covering the age group of 14-18 years).

The Scheme Framework has also given a detailed framework of Examination, Assessment and Evaluation at all the five stages, right from the Foundational Stage.

A lot of emphasis has been laid on Assessment at the Foundational Stage, and rightly so. The document sketches that Assessment is vital to track a child’s progress in a continuous and comprehensive manner using multiple techniques of assessment.

“School-based assessment (SBA) at the foundational stage should be stress-free and largely through qualitative observations based on performance of the children in a multitude of experiences and activities. Tools and techniques should be used in exemplars prescribed by NCERT/SCERT in SBA document,” the Assessment At Foundational Stage document reads.

The Scheme urges teachers to identify the child’s strengths, needs, interests and preferences and potentiate his/her performance and scaffold it through interventions. It also calls for collaborating to solve issues and areas of concern while contributing to early identification of learning gaps and learning difficulties.

“Teachers are required to identify the learning gaps and focus should be on the attainment of learning outcomes and competencies as envisaged in the NIPUN/FLN Guidelines which is broadly conceptualized as a child’s ability to read basic texts and solve basic maths problems. All children are expected to achieve grade wise subject specific learning,” the document reads.

Added emphasis has been laid on reading, fluently reading and writing of students.

CONCLUSIONS IN J&K CONTEXT

On the face of it, the ‘Student Assessment and Evaluation Scheme’ (SA&ES) seems to have captured the essence of education, which is not merely about so-called assessment by way of examinations to score high grades. It is truly about experiential learning which is free of stress, especially at the foundational stage where great care has to be taken to mould the fragile students into good human beings with quality education. Developing their skills at the foundational stage can go a long way in helping them to meet future challenges in life.

However, in the context of Jammu and Kashmir, some factors need to be focused on in a sustained manner so that the new scheme is able to meet the desired objectives.

First and foremost is holding regular orientation programmes for teachers at multiple stages—at relevant stage/s where these teachers are teaching—to acquaint them with the new policy and how its goals can be achieved. Secondly, it is important for the School Education Department (SED) to ensure that all necessary facilities/infrastructure is in place in all schools across the UT in line with the necessities mentioned in the new assessment policy.

In some schools in far off areas of Jammu and Kashmir, schools lack basic infrastructure and facilities like buildings, toilets, chalks, blackboards etc which makes the working of teachers as well as students very difficult.

In such a state of affairs it will be very difficult to attain the goals of the National Education Policy-2020. Thirdly, it would be imperative on part of the authorities to fill the vacant positions of teachers/masters/CEOs, ZEOs etc. so that there is a sustained and collective focus on meeting the objectives of the new assessment and evaluation scheme. Most often, it is seen that such policies and programmes haven’t moved beyond papers due to lack of official attention and focus.

Last but not the least, the broad framework of the scheme should be adequately highlighted through print and electronic media to reach the wider masses at grassroots. Teachers should be roped in to read the document and provide their feedback on how to make it better and applicable. The feedback so received should be incorporated in the document itself in future to make it more practical and result-oriented.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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