TaRL instructors assess each child using an oral, one-on-one assessment. This one-on-one interaction between instructor and child is a critical step in connecting the instructor to the learning level of the child. The assessment is an opportunity to discover each child’s highest learning level. Before beginning the assessment, instructors should aim to make the child feel at ease. Instructors make sure there are not too many people around, avoid using terms such as “test”, or “assessment”, which might make the child nervous, and begin the assessment with a friendly chat.
The assessment begins with reading. The process described below is followed in some contexts. However, TaRL implementers should adapt the process for their own contexts where necessary.
The instructor begins with the paragraph, asking: “Can you read this for me?” If the child reads the simple paragraph successfully, she is then asked to read the story. The child is said to have successfully read the paragraph if:
a) she reads it like she is reading sentences rather than a string of disconnected words;
b) she reads it fluently with ease, even if she is reading slowly; and
c) she makes fewer than 4 mistakes.
Children who read the paragraph fluently are asked to read the short story. Those who are not able to read the paragraph fluently are asked to read words. Similarly, if they’re unable to read at least 4 words, they’re asked to read letters. If they are unable to read 4 letters correctly, they are marked as beginner. Each child’s highest reading level is recorded. For example, if John is able to read words but not a paragraph, his level is recorded as ‘Word’.
Once the instructor has heard every child read or try to read, she is aware of who is stumbling at which stage and why.
The one-on-one nature of testing plays an important role in connecting instructors to the level of the children in their classes. It is easy to disconnect from a stack of papers that display poor results, but it is far more difficult to disconnect from a child with whom you are engaging directly.
Pratham experience suggests that teachers are not aware of the learning levels of children in their class and are often shocked by how poorly learners perform in the assessment when they first practice using the tool. This realisation provides a strong motive for dedicating time to foundational skills and reconnects teachers to the level of the child.
How are assessment tools created?
The mathematics assessment follows the reading assessment. The mathematics assessment process outlined below describes a process followed in some contexts. TaRL implementers adapt the process for their own contexts where necessary.
The instructor lets the child set the pace throughout the assessment, encouraging and praising each child, regardless of their performance. Children are regularly reassessed and move through the levels as they progress.