Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation: A Device to Improve Learning...
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation:
A Device to Improve Learning Standards at
the Elementary Level
This paper underscores the problems inherent in the traditional examination
system and advocates the implementation of a continuous and comprehensive
evaluation system at the elementary level, that will cover both scholastic and
non-scholastic areas of a student's life at school.
Dr. Mamta Agrawal is Reader, Department of Educational Measurement and
Evaluation, NCERT, New Delhi.

Education is perhaps the most important instrument that is used for
developing human resources the world over. For high quality output
it is necessary that the educational input too should be of high quality.
Whether the education imparted is of high quality or not can be judged
best by the standard of learning that the students achieve. Various
studies conducted by institutions like the National Council of Educa-
tional Research and Training (NCERT) and National Institute of
Educational Planning and Administration show that the learning
achievement at the elementary stage is quite poor in India.
A study of student achievement in Class IV and Class V from
schools in the 'privileged urban zone' in Madhya Pradesh found that
70 per cent of Class IV and 60 per cent of Class V children had not
mastered competencies expected from Class II children in Hindi and
Mathematics. Besides, in a 'highly underdeveloped rural zone', no
Class IV or Class V child had mastered the Class II competencies
(Govinda and Vergese, 1993).
In a study conducted in 23 stages, the average achievement in Class
IV for arithmetic and language was found to be 46.4 per cent (Shukla,
1994). Seen from the point of view of the system where 33 per cent is

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 623
supposed to be the pass mark this average may be considered quite
satisfactory. But seen in the light of todays's minimum levels of
learning approach, where those with 80 per cent are termed masters,
this achievement is quite low. Therefore, the foremost challenge that
education at the elementary stage has to face is improvement in
learning standards.
Various strategies are necessary to achieve an acceptable level of
quality in education, such as, increasing finance for education, improv-
ing the preparation, motivation and deployment of teachers and im-
proving the quality of textbooks as suggested by the Word Bank
Document, 1996. In a country like India, there is need for low cost
strategies aimed at enhancing learning standards. The use of Continu-
ous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) can be one such strategy.
Evaluation can be a powerful, low cost means of influencing the
quality of what teachers teach and what students learn in schools. This
paper suggests two ways of improving the learning standards in
schools through the use of CCE — one is improvement in the quality
of the tests the schools design, and the other is areas of learning that
the schools assess.
Problems with the Traditional Examination System
In a modern society, education can only thrive in a context of
examination (Cox, 1969). This sentiment is still shared by most
people and therefore, examinations continue to be a pervasive feature
of our educational system. But the traditional examinations suffer
from many deficiencies.
Traditional examinations attempt to test the students' achievements
within a short period of three hours, and classify them as 'pass' or 'fail',
first class, second class, third class and so on. 'To what extent are such
examination results a valid representation of the individual's educa-
tional experience and achievement?' is the question raised by Buckle
and Riding (1988). This examination does not give any importance to.
the work done throughout the year in terms of projects, assignments,
tests, class work and so on.
The present examination lays considerable emphasis on memorisa-
tion. A large number of questions in the examination demand only the
recall of information on the part of the students. The meta-cognitive
skills are either absent or are tested in a very small percentage.
The traditional examination system does not have any provision
for the assessment of non-scholastic areas such as personal social

624 Mamta Agrawal
qualities, interests, attitudes, values, and so on. Consequently these
areas are neglected in schools, and the all-round development of the
pupil's personality remains an evasive goal.
Examinations create psychological fear and tension in the minds of
the students because their results are given undue importance in
society. This leads to various malpractices by students in order to pass
the examination. It also leads to certain undesirable practices in teach-
ing and learning in schools. Both teachers and students concentrate on
only selected portions of the syllabus from the examination point of
view and do not pay much attention to the subject as a whole. Students
also work hard only when the examination approaches and not
throughout the year. Thus, the existing mode of summative assessment
suffers from major shortcomings and is not able to give a true picture
of what students learn throughout the year.
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation
New assessment approaches which are formative in nature are being
developed. They place emphasis on what has been achieved by the
student rather than on classifying him as 'good' or 'bad' (Council of
Europe, 1986).
The new approach which has been developed in India is known as
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation. The idea of school based
evaluation, earlier known as internal assessment was floating in the
educational circle as early as the 1950s. The Bhopal Seminar on
Examinations in 1956 gave it a concrete shape. Later a scheme of
internal assessment was tried out by the Rajasthan Board of Secondary
Education, Ajmer, in collaboration with the NCERT in 1969 and by
Tamil Nadu in 1974.
This scheme covered both scholastic and non-scholastic areas of pupil
growth and provided for a separate certificate by the school under the seal
of the Board of Secondary Education. Gradually these schemes dwindled
into nothingness as people lost faith in the validity of that certificate.
However, the idea was regenerated by the National Policy of
Education (NPE), 1986, when it mentioned:
Assessment of performance is an integral part of any process
of learning and teaching. As part of sound educational strategy,
examinations should be employed to bring about qualitative
improvements in education.
Apart from making examinations valid and reliable and de-
emphasising memorisation, in functional terms this should also

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 625
mean the introduction of CCE that incorporates both scholastic and
non-scholastic aspects of education, spread over the total span of
instructional time in schools.
Thus, the NPE, 1986 (India, 1986), and the Plan of Action (India,
1992) have recommended the introduction of CCE of pupils to bring
about qualitative improvement in not only the instructional pro-
gramme but also in the learning achievement of students at all stages.
In fact, evaluation is envisaged as an integral part of the teaching and
learning process.
Concept of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation
There are three terms involved in the framework of continuous and
comprehensive evaluation. These are 'continuous', 'comprehensive'
and 'evaluation'.
The term 'continuous' refers to regularity in assessment. The growth
of a child is a continuous process. Therefore, the students' progress should
be evaluated continuously which means that evaluation has to be com-
pletely integrated with the teaching and learning process.
The term 'comprehensive' refers to both the scholastic and non-scho-
lastic areas of pupil growth. The function of the school is not only to build
up the cognitive abilities of the child, but also develop his/her non-cogni-
tive abilities. This can be ensured when the evaluation is comprehensive.
Comprehensive evaluation covers the whole range of student expe-
rience in the context of total school environment. It includes aspects
like physical, intellectual, emotional and social growth. Thus the scope
of evaluation is broadened from subject-related intellectual areas to
non-scholastic areas like social-personal qualities, interests, attitudes,
values and physical growth.
The third term is 'evaluation'. Evaluation is the process of finding
out the extent to which the desired changes have taken place in the
pupils. It, therefore, requires collection of evidence regarding growth
or progress, so as to use that information for decision-making. Thus,
information gathering, judgement making and decision taking are the
three phases of the process of evaluation.
Thus, CCE means a regular assessment of all the aspects of pupil
development in the school.
Characteristics of Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation
1. The purpose of CCE is mainly improvement in learning and diag-
nosis of weaknesses so that remedial measures can be provided.

626 Mamta Agrawal
2. Both the scholastic and non-scholastic aspects of pupil growth
are evaluated through CCE.
3. The CCE is the informal evaluation in school carried out by the
teachers who teach the students. The assumption is that the
teachers know their pupils best, and that it is their right to
evaluate them.
4. The CCE provides for the use of multiple techniques of meas-
urement. These include not only written tests but oral tests,
observation, interview, practical tests, rating scales, invento-
ries, schedules, profiles and so on.
5. The CCE is built into the total teaching learning programme
and is part of the daily routine for a teacher, rather than done at
a specific time in the year as in the formal examination system.
6. In CCE, analysis and interpretation of evidence collected may
be made on three different levels.
7. With reference to the student, that is, how the student is
progressing, what are the hard spots and what are the learning
gaps. This helps the learner improve his/her learning.
8. With reference to the peer group, that is, where a particular
student stands with reference to his/her class. This means that
the performance of a student can be compared with the per-
formance of other children in the class. This motivates the
children to do better.
9. With reference to the criteria set by the teacher, that is, the teacher
finds out whether the student has attained the expected level of
performance or not. This is in keeping with the idea of minimum
levels of learning (MLL) wherein the curriculum is defined in
terms of achievable competencies. The minimum achievement
level is supposed to be 80 per cent wherein those with 80 per cent
may be termed as masters and those below 80 per cent as non-
masters. The non-masters need to be given remedial instruction
so as to bring them at par with their counterparts.
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation and Improvement
in Learning Standards
From the above mentioned characteristics of CCE it is evident that the
basic purpose of this evaluation scheme is to improve learning by
making evaluation an integral part of the teaching-learning process.
Evaluation is to be used for improving student achievement as well as
teaching-learning strategies. To operationalise CCE, different steps are

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 627
to be followed. On the basis of the feedback from the tests, diagnosis
of the hard spots of learning is made.
After diagnosing the gaps in learning, remedial instruction is pro-
vided so that weaknesses can be removed. Sometimes this process may
demand the reteaching of the whole unit or a change in the strategy of
teaching. The students are then retested to find out the improvement
in learning.
The CCE can be used at all stages of education but it is very
useful at the elementary stage, as in India, evaluation till the ele-
mentary stage, is the school's prerogative. An outside examination
agency like the State Board of Education does not come into the
picture at this stage. It is up to the schools to manage their evaluation
system on their own.
Moreover CCE is the only evaluation process which goes well with
the MLL approach (which at present is working at the primary stage
and is shortly going to be extended to the upper primary level). CCE
gets integrated with the MLL based teaching-learning programme in
the elementary school.
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation and Quality of Tests
With the MLL approach it goes without saying that the quality of tests
would also need to be improved. As per the MLL norms, the competencies
of knowledge, understanding, application and skills are expected to be
imparted and learnt in the school. Since they are expected to be learnt,
they need to be evaluated also. So with MLL and CCE, the tests will have
to be designed in such a way that they test the higher competencies and
meta-cognitive skills like problem solving, arguments, logical thinking,
application of knowledge, analysis and synthesis.
The Study of Evaluation Practices of the Primary Schools of Delhi
(Agrawal and Rajput, 1996) showed that the question papers de-
signed by various schools were not balanced with regard to weigh-
tage of objectives, different forms of questions and content areas to
be covered. Taking the example of weightage to objectives, a question
paper should have appropriate weightage allotted for various objec-
tives like knowledge, understanding, application and skill. The follow-
ing table shows the weightage assigned to different objectives in
science by different schools.
The table indicates that the major share of weightages (from 50 per
cent to 70 per cent is allotted to knowledge and minimum (from 6 to
12 per cent) to application.

628 Mamta Agrawal
Weightages to Different Objectives in Science
Understanding does not receive its due weightage. A science ques-
tion paper, to be balanced, needs approximately these weightages:
• Knowledge - 40%
• Understanding - 40%
• Application - 10%
• Skill-10%.
The questions which test the learning of facts, concepts and terms
are considered as knowledge based questions. For answering these
questions the child recognises and recalls memorised knowledge only.
For example,
Q.l Name the organs of the excretory system. Write the func-
tion of each organ.
Understanding based questions try to test whether the child can
classify, compare, translate, establish relationships, interpret etc.
For example:
Q.l Write two main differences between the human body and
the computer.
Q.2 Match Column A with Column B
C o l u m n A Column B
tongue digestion
stomach taste
bones breathing
lungs skeletal system
In question, the child has to explain the differences between the
human body and the computer. This involves knowledge of both on
the one hand, and go beyond knowledge by comparing the two. In the

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 629
second question, the child is expected to establish relationships by
matching the items in the two columns.
Application type questions try to test the child's critical thinking
wherein analysing, making judgement, examining and justifying are
included. For example:
Q.l Vishal and Anupam want to grow plants in their garden.
Vishal's garden has loam soil but Anupam's garden has
clay. Who will have a better garden and why?
To answer this question the child is expected to go through a number
of mental processes. He/she has to recall the characteristics of loam
soil as well as clay soil, compare the two soils and then arrive at a
judgement as to which soil would be better for a garden. The child also
has to present logical arguments in favour of its choice. Here the child
has to use his/her knowledge and understanding for solving a problem
and apply them in a situation which has not been hitherto presented in
the classroom.
For skill questions, the children can be asked to draw and label the
diagrams of various objects. For example:
Q1. Draw and label the diagram of a gernrinating seed.
There can also be questions where a diagram is given in the test
paper and the children are asked to only label it.
The above examples show how to frame questions that test various
objectives or competencies in sciences at the primary level. A better
quality test will, thus, improve learning standards. It would require
better teaching in the classroom as the teachers have to prepare the
children to answer not only knowledge-based questions, but also
questions involving higher mental processes. It will also require better
efforts on the part of the students to answer the tests, and thereby
improve the standards of learning.
Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation and Areas of

The other way of improving learning standards in the school and
improving the quality of education is to bring more areas of learning
into the fold of evaluation. In a traditional school system, only scho-
lastic areas come within the purview of the evaluation. But CCE takes
into account not only scholastic areas but also non-scholastic areas of
pupil growth thereby helping in the all-round development of the
child's personality. Assessment of non-scholastic areas as envisaged
by Arora and Agrawal, (1993) is as follows:

630 Mamta Agrawal
Personal and Social Qualities
spirit of social service
emotional stability
social service
sports and games
Physical Health
school property
school programmes
socially accepted values
Co-curricular Activities
dance, drama, music
drawing and painting
debates, quiz
creative writing
games and sports

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 631
adventure activities
Work Experience Activities
chalk/candle making
art and craft
book binding
medical checkup for physical health
rating scales
anecdotal records
day-to-day observation by the
teacher reporting once every term
annual medical checkup
The framework suggests that the assessment of non-scholastic areas
should be indicated in letter grades in the report cards of the students.
For various social and personality traits, the schools can select any
four or five traits from the given list on which they want to make an
assessment. The teacher has to collect evidence for this mainly through
observation and interview. Pupils should be observed in different
situations, that is, within the classroom, on the play field and even
outside school. Evidence can be collected by obtaining information
from other teachers also.
Regarding co-curricular activities and work experience activities,
it is expected that every student will participate in at least one of
the given activities. If some students take part in more than one
co-curricular activity, separate mention may be made about it in the
'special achievement' column of the report card.
The evaluation of non-scholastic areas not only brings to light the
hidden qualities in children, but also prepares them for the future'.
There are certain traits, qualities, attitudes and values which are needed
by an individual for success in life. For example, qualities of regularity,

632 Mamta Agrawal
punctuality, discipline, initiative, industriousness and cooperation
are valued in professional life; qualities of respect for others,
truthfulness, emotional stability are required for a happy personal
life. One cannot afford to neglect these qualities and it is the
responsibility of the school to focus on these crucial aspects of
personality development. It is, therefore, imperative to include all
these areas of personality growth in the evaluation system which
can be successfully done by CCE.
A case has been made in this paper for the at elementary stage.
However, there are many 'ifs' and 'buts' in the implementation of
this scheme in Indian schools. If a scheme has to be successful, the
peripheral problems need to be solved. The role of administrators
is crucial in this regard. It can work in our system only when it is
forcefully and emphatically introduced in the school system. Clear-
cut guidelines for the inclusion of CCE in the evaluation system of
schools need to be prepared. For this an infrastructure needs to be
built up. The working environment of the teachers needs to be
improved by way of employing more hands and restricting the
number of students. More recruitment of teachers is needed for
better assessment of students. Ingenkamp (1989, cf:. Eckstein, Max
and Noah, 1992), while studying the German system of evaluation
noted that the decisive factor in the failure of the initiative regarding
the introduction of new methods in German schools was that the
school administration gave regulations but never provided enough
additional professional staff to implement them. This problem is
faced by other countries of the world too and needs to be looked
The headmasters/headmistresses and principals of schools who
plan, organise and manage evaluation in schools need to be oriented
in CCE. Only then can they carefully monitor and supervise the
evaluation in schools.
The teachers need thorough training in the scheme of CCE as a
whole and in the assessment of non-scholastic areas in particular. They
should be trained in using simple appraisal techniques through which
they can record their observations of various pupils regularly. Once
this infrastructure is ready, it can be hoped that the CCE will be
implemented in our schools successfully and that elementary educa-
tion will move towards better standards.

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation 633
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THE INDIAN JOURNAL OF SOCIAL WORK, Volume 59, issue 2, April 1998