‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education’ (RTE) Act 2009, government is obligated in ensuring eight years of quality education for all children in the age group 6-14 years. Over the past decade or so since the beginning
of the Sarva Shikha Abhiyan (SSA) programme, there has been a signifi cant increase in the number of schools and in the enrolment of children in government schools, most notably a large proportion of children from among Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes,
Muslims and girls have joined the schooling system. Most of these children are also fi rst-generation learners, coupled with the fact that they also come from very impoverished socio-economic backgrounds, which present unique challenges for the education system to
adequately support the diverse learning needs of students. While high enrolment and diverse classroom are a sign of healthy inclusion
and participation in the education system, it is equally important that all children receive a good quality education. One of the key indicators of quality education is to understand whether children’s learning achievement is improving over time in an equitable manner.
To monitor improvement in children’s learning levels and to periodically assess the health of the government education system as a whole, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has been periodically conducting National Achievement
Surveys (NAS) since 2001, for Class III, V and VIII. The NAS report gives a national and state-level picture, rather than scores for
individual students, schools or districts. The purpose of these assessments is to obtain an overall picture of what students in specifi c
classes know and can do, and to use these fi ndings to identify gaps and diagnose areas that need improvement. This information can
then be used to impact policies and interventions for improving children’s learning under the SSA programme.