Assessment-Special Features of NCF - National Curriculum Framework-2023

Key Points of Recommendation “Approach to Assessment” (NCF-2023, Section 3.4) 
Key Points of Recommendation “Approach to Assessment” Approach to Assessment (NCF-2023, Section 3.4) in NEP 2020

Approach to Assessment (NCF-2023, Section 3.4)

Approach to Assessment (NCF-2023, Section 3.4)The aim of assessment in the culture of our schooling system will shift from one that is summative and primarily tests rote memorization skills to one that is more regular and formative, is more competency-based, promotes learning and development for our students, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking, and conceptual clarity. The primary purpose of assessment will indeed be for learning; it will help the teacher and student, and the entire schooling system, continuously revise teaching-learning processes to optimize learning and development for all students. This will be the underlying principle for assessment at all levels of education.

[NEP 2020, 4.34]

The progress card will be a holistic, 360-degree, multidimensional report that reflects in great detail the progress as well as the uniqueness of each learner in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. It will include self-assessment and peer assessment, and progress of the child in project based and inquiry-based learning, quizzes, role plays, group work, portfolios, etc., along with teacher assessment. The holistic progress card will form an important link between home and school and will be accompanied by parent-teacher meetings in order to actively involve parents in their children’s holistic education and development. The progress card would also provide teachers and parents with valuable information on how to support each student in and out of the classroom. AI-based software could be developed and used by students to help track their growth through their school years based on learning data and interactive questionnaires for parents, students, and teachers, in order to provide students with valuable information on their strengths, areas of interest, and needed areas of focus, and to thereby help them make optimal career choices.”

[NEP 2020, 4.35]
Principles of Pedagogy 2023

Special Features “Approach to Assessment” NCF-2023

Purposes of Assessment Assessment has two purpose – measuring achievement of student learning and gauging effectiveness of classroom processes and teaching materials in teaching and learning.In the everyday of the classroom, assessment refers to any process of gathering information about student learning that can be interpreted, analysed, and used by the Teacher (mainly) for guiding the teaching-learning process, aggregating student learning at relevant junctures and in reporting student progress over time.Educational assessment, thus, plays a critical role in improving teaching and learning.Assessment is also used for certifying student learning and education completion at key stages (e.g., Grade 10, Grade 12).

Assessment of Learning; Assessment for Learning; Assessment as Learning

Assessment of learning refers to. the measurement of achievement of student learning.

Assessment for learning refers to evidence of student learning gathered by the teacher that provides inputs to guide the teaching-learning processes. Assessment, when designed meaningfully, can be used as a powerful tool that contributes to and supports better student learning and teaching practices. Teachers who have a good sense of where students in class do well and where they struggle, can thus take more informed decisions about their pedagogical practices.

Recent studies have shown that students can play an active role in taking charge of their own learning. When assessments are introduced as non-threatening tools for self-reflection and introspection, they become developmental and constructive in nature. This is referred to as assessments as learning. In school education, one needs to look at all three approaches to assessments mentioned above – assessment of learning, for learning and as learning.

Current Challenges in Assessment

In school, assessment has mostly become mechanical and routinized. At best, assessment is focused on measuring rote learning of content rather than measuring achievement of Competencies and Learning Outcomes. At worst, assessment is an intimidating process that creates fear and leads to labeling and segregation of students based on the ‘marks’ they have scored in tests and examination.

The stress of Board examinations at Grade 10 and Grade 12 has repeatedly led to deep anxiety among students and families. They place an enormous amount of pressure on students over just a few days of their lives. Real understanding, thinking, analysing, doing, and learning takes a secondary seat to rote learning, and obtaining coaching for performing on these life-altering examinations.

The fact that life-determining Board Examinations are available only on two occasions,

in Grade 10 and 12, the pressure on students and families would naturally be high. Also, the current structure of Board Examinations forces students to concentrate only on a few subjects at the expense of others, preventing truly holistic development. Examinations should also be seen as learning experiences, from which one can learn and improve in the future, the current Board Examination system does not lend itself to this.

Principles of Pedagogy 2023
Principles of Pedagogy 2023

Key Principles of Good Assessment

Key principles that could guide our thinking on effective use of assessments to aid better teaching and learning are listed below:

a. Assessment should measure achievement of Competencies and Learning Outcomes leading to attainment of Curricular Goals

Assessments should explicitly track student progress on all aspects of learning as stated in the Competencies for each Stage and Learning Outcomes for each Grade. Assessments

should accurately reflect the intent of evaluating the achievement of a Competency or Learning Outcome. The connection between the Competency or Learning Outcome and the assessment should be clear and precise. Appropriate modes of assessments may be chosen in alignment with the Competencies and Learning Outcome to be assessed.

b. Assessments should be constructive, developmental, and learning focused

Assessments need to be visualized as an ongoing process which Teachers integrate within

the teaching learning process using formal and informal ways to elicit reliable evidence

about student learning. Collecting such evidence helps Teachers understand the effectiveness of their pedagogy in terms of what the students have understood and what needs to be worked on further; which methods of teaching work and which ones don’t; what kind of resources work, and so on. For students, assessments need to be placed as an important tool that will help them understand and reflect on their own learning. Assessment should not become an intimidating process that involves the labelling and segregation of students.

c. Assessments should be Stage-appropriate

At the Foundational Stage, Teachers would primarily drive all assessment activities which

are largely based on observation. At the Preparatory and Middle Stages, students need to be given a more proactive role in assessing their own learning trajectories. Multiple tools and methods can be introduced at these Stages. At the Secondary Stage, students should be prepared to take standardized tests including Board certifications and other competitive assessments that will prepare them for the future.

d. Assessments should accommodate student diversity

It is important to move away from the one size fits all approach while designing assessments. To the extent possible, classroom assessments should be graded in terms of the learning outcomes and competencies to be achieved. As the rate of learning progression for each student can differ, the tools must accommodate for students performing at different levels in a classroom. Well-designed graded assessments can be used to understand individual student needs better so that they can be adequately catered to. Another way of addressing student diversity is also through using variety of assessment methods, e.g., paper-pencil tests, oral assessments, project work, group assignments.

e. Assessments should be supported by timely, credible, and constructive feedback to students

Students should be given adequate feedback on their performance. Such feedback needs to be constructive with information on what has worked well and what areas might need

improvement and how can this be achieved. Use of Holistic Progress Cards that detail out

student performance in multiple aspects including formative and summative assessments should be explored.

f. Assessments should support in meaningful aggregation/summation of student


While the formative function of assessment is critical, the summative function of assessment is equally important. Summative examinations, including certification examinations, continue to be relevant as it serves as a necessary test to understand student’s achievement of Competencies and Learning Outcomes. While the significance of summative exams is well established, what needs immediate attention is the approach to the same. Examinations should move away from testing rote learning skills and instead focus conceptual understanding, application of concepts, problem solving abilities, critical thinking, and other such higher order capacities.

Types of Assessment

Assessments could be formative or summative, both are equally important for improving teaching

and learning.

a. Formative assessments are continuous and ongoing. They are used to track student

learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by both Teachers to improve their

teaching and students to improve their learning. Formative assessments are generally low stakes and do not have strong consequences. Some examples of formative assessments include observing student behaviour in class, asking students to draw a concept map in class to represent their understanding of a topic or write a few sentences with a friend on a poem they have read.

b. Summative assessments evaluate student learning at the end of a lesson or a logical

period of teaching. Summative assessments are normally high stakes in that they compare student performance to a benchmark or standard and have some consequence. Some examples of summative assessments include a term-end test, submission of a project or writing a paper. Results of summative assessment can also be used for formative purposes i.e., informing teaching and learning.

Principles of Pedagogy 2023

Assessment across Stages

Foundational Stage

a. Assessment should not contribute to any additional burden for the child. Assessment tools and processes should be designed such that they are a natural extension of the learning experience for the child. Explicit tests and examinations are completely inappropriate assessment tools for this Stage.

b. Assessment should allow for diversity among children and in their learning. Children learn differently and express their learning differently too. There might be many ways to assess the achievement of a Learning Outcome or Competency. The Teacher should have the ability to design different kinds of assessment for the same Learning Outcome and use each assessment appropriately.

c. Assessment should enable recording and documentation. Children’s progress should be described and analysed through systematic collection of evidence.

d. Assessment should not overly burden the Teacher. The Teacher should have the autonomy to judiciously choose the appropriate tool for assessment and the periodicity in which assessment-related record keeping is maintained. While such autonomy is important, systematic record keeping of children’s assessment should be seen as an important part of a teacher’s professional responsibilities.

e. The two important methods of assessment that are appropriate for the Foundational Stage are observations of the child and analysing artefacts that the child has produced as part of their learning experience. Preparatory Stage

a. With the start of more formal learning across curricular areas, a robust system of formative assessment is required to track progress of individual students. Assessment should act as an instructional tool and help to provide a comprehensive account of student learning.

b. Students from this Stage onwards learn better when they are more aware of the Competencies to be attained. Teachers should help make them understand the desired Competency to be achieved through a lesson or a unit of study.

c. A variety of assessment methods should be used to promote learning. Written tests should be introduced at this Stage. Portfolios can be used to capture student progress holistically through their work. This could also provide a reliable picture of their learning to parents. Peer and Self-assessments could also be introduced to help students monitor the trajectory of their own learning.

d. At the end of the Preparatory Stage, there should be a comprehensive summative

assessment of the student’s readiness to enter the Middle Stage where several new

curricular areas are introduced.

Middle Stage

a. With the introduction of more concepts in each subject at this Stage, assessment will

continue to be Competency-based, covering all dimensions of learning.

b. At this Stage, the focus of the curriculum moves to conceptual understanding and higher order capacities. Therefore, classroom assessment techniques such as projects, debates, presentations, experiments, investigations, role plays, journals and portfolios should be used to assess learning.

c. Regular summative assessments at this Stage will help students synthesize their learning at logical intervals (e.g., year-end, term-end, unit of learning-end). Summative assessments comprising multiple-choice questions and constructed responses (e.g., short answer, long answer) may be used periodically.

d. By the end of the Middle Stage, there should be a comprehensive summative assessment of student achievement of Competencies in each curricular area. The assessments should also be able to indicate special interest or inclination in specific curricular areas that students may have demonstrated.

Secondary Stage

a. Given the demand of greater subject depth, comprehensive classroom assessments should be effectively practiced for facilitating meaningful learning and constructive feedback. Regular summative assessments should be conducted for recording students learning against Competencies.

b. Classroom assessments, like in the Middle Stage, will continue to play important role

considering the nature and complexity of the Competencies at this Stage. Self-assessment

will play a key role in student learning at this Stage. Students should be facilitated to monitor what they are learning and use the feedback from this monitoring to adjust, adapt, and decide their own strategies for learning.

c. Summative assessments can be designed using case-based questions, simulations, and essay-type questions to enable assessment of Competencies.

d. At this Stage, students should also be prepared to undertake the Board examinations and other selection tests to gain access to higher education and livelihood opportunities.


Rajeev Ranjan

School Education

“Let knowledge grow from more to more.”

Alfred Tennyson, “In Memoriam”, Prologue, line 25

References and Resources