Since 2005, the ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) survey has been conducted annually by the ASER Centre in all rural districts of India. This household-based survey strives to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s enrollment and basic learning levels at district, state, and national levels, as well as measure changes in these parameters over time. ASER engages citizens across the country in understanding and tracking children’s ability to read and do basic arithmetic through the participation of local organizations and institutions. Unlike most other large-scale learning assessments, ASER is a household-based rather than school‐based survey that includes those who have never been to school or have dropped out, as well as those enrolled in government schools, private schools, and religious schools. ASER relies on SMS technology to complete the survey in a compressed time frame of approximately 5 months.
Sampling Strategy | In each rural district, 30 villages are sampled. In each village, 20 randomly selected households are then surveyed. This process generates a total of 600 households per district, or about 300,000 households for the country as a whole. Approximately 700,000 children in the age group 3-16 who are resident in these households are surveyed. Enrollment information is recorded for all such children, while learning assessments are completed for children in the 5-16 age group.
The sample design employs a rotating panel of villages. Each year, 10 villages that have participated for three years or more are replaced with 10 new villages. This strategy generates a representative picture of each district. Using appropriate weighting, the estimates obtained are then aggregated by state and national level.
Reading tools | The ASER reading assessment tool consists of 4 levels: letters; words; a short paragraph; and a longer "story". The child is marked at the highest level which she can comfortably complete.
Math tools | The ASER Math tool consists of four levels: number recognition (1-9); number recognition (11-99); two digit subtraction with carry over; and three digit by one digit division. The child is marked at the highest level which she can comfortably complete.
Training | ASER has a 3-tier training process, the National Workshop for all ASER central and state teams, training at the state-level led by the respective ASER team members, and a training workshop for volunteers at the district level led by Master Trainers. These Master Trainers (usually more than 1,000 per year) are selected from the Pratham network and participating partner organizations. They are trained in all aspects of the survey at the state-level training workshops and are then responsible for training volunteers that conduct the survey in each district.
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CEI approaches in action
ASER has experienced growth in terms of the number of villages, the number of schools, and the number of children it reaches. In 2005, the first year ASER was conducted, it covered a total of 9,521 villages. By 2012, the survey increased its reach to 16,166 villages. Similarly, the survey in 2005 included 9,252 schools while by 2009 it increased its coverage to 14,748 schools. In 2005, ASER surveyed 332,000 children, 758,000 students in 2006, and 596,000 in 2012. The survey is currently based on the census held in 2001. The number of districts is likely to increase when the 2011 census data becomes available.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Specific steps are being taken to ensure that key aspects of training are implemented across all state and district training workshops. Examples include:
- Most state trainings are attended by both the respective Pratham State Head and a member of the Central ASER team.
- In most states, a person is assigned to interact with the Master Trainers on a daily basis and ensure that they complete all basic processes in trainings, survey-conducting and rechecking of data.
- Survey results for every village in a district are compiled in a district compilation sheet. The sheet also features quiz results and attendance records for volunteers. Significant emphasis is placed on this sheet during the monitoring and rechecking of data.
ASER has a process in place to ensure data quality is regularly reviewed and tightened. In 2012, ASER ensured that responses for about half of all surveyed villages were either monitored or rechecked. Monitoring and verifcation processes for ASER 2012 followed a multi-layer communication strategy which enabled team members to identify potential quality-related concerns in a timely manner and implement corrective actions as needed.
Standardized Assessment Performance - Other | Children reading ability, mathematics, English, and comprehension skills are tested