New Delhi, March 12: Schoolchildren from national boards have outperformed those from the state boards in the first-ever standardised countrywide test of Class X pupils, carried out as part of a sample survey by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT).
Students from the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations, which conducts the ICSE exam, and the Central Board of Secondary Education have come out tops while Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu hug the basement.
NCERT surveyors visited 7,216 schools, affiliated to 33 state boards and two national boards, and tested 277,416 students on five subjects with a standard set of multiple-choice questions.
Nagaland and Goa are top among the states while Bengal and Karnataka follow closely. Bengal's Class X pupils have done the best across the nation in the modern Indian language test (Bengali in their case), scoring 73 against a national average of 53.
They have beaten the national average in English as well and equalled it in mathematics while slipping in science and social science.
Rural and Dalit children have fared worse than urban and upper caste pupils, while those from government schools have lagged their counterparts from government-aided and private schools.
The Bihar and Manipur boards "could not participate", the NCERT has said without explanation. The survey was conducted in November 2014 and February last year but the results were released recently.
"The findings give the state-wise level of performance. The states can analyse the data and take measures to improve the standards of learning," said Y. Sreekanth, head of the NCERT's education survey division.
In English and modern Indian language, the students were tested on reading comprehension and "language elements".
In mathematics, the questions were from arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, coordinate geometry and statistics.
The science questions were from chemistry, physics, biology, food and natural resources. The social science test covered history, economics, geography and politics.
Sreekanth said the NCERT surveys students of Classes III, V and VIII every three years. This survey of Class X students followed a prod from the Union human resource development ministry.
Individual results will not be provided to the students, Sreekanth said.
"The objective of the study was to find out the performance of a state in general. This was not to target the individual learner but to address systemic issues in learning," he said.
Two years ago, Bengal had figured among the top four states - with Uttar Pradesh, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh - in the NCERT's latest survey of Class V and Class VIII pupils. But experts had said the state's high dropout rate may have played a part by weeding out the weaker students.
Bihar and Jharkhand had figured near the bottom.
The NGO Pratham too tests students up to Class VIII every year and publishes a report. Rukmini Banerji of Pratham said the NCERT findings "point in the same direction" as Pratham's.
Pratham's January 20i5 report had found that the proportion of Class V children who could read Class II text had risen marginally from 46.8 per cent in 2012 to 47 per cent in 2013 and 48.1 per cent in 2014.
In mathematics, 24.9 per cent of Class V children could do simple division in 2012, which increased to 25.6 per cent in 2013 and 26.1 per cent in 2014.