Why is a 5th grade student unable to read 2nd grade text?

Why is a 5th grade student unable to read 2nd grade text?

As per the 2022 ASER Education Report, only 42.8% of 5th grade students were able to read a 2nd grade text.

The Annual Status of Education Report, or ASER, is an annual, citizen-led household survey, led by the Pratham Foundation that aims to understand whether children in rural India are enrolled in school and whether they are learning.

The recently published 2022 ASER Education Report states the dire condition of the rural Indian education landscape. This is evident in the fall of the percentages regarding basic reading and arithmetic skills over the years. The percentage of 5th grade students who can at least read a 2nd grade level text fell from 50.5% in 2018 to 42.8% in 2022. While this is an alarming concern, other statistics from the report also spark a need for serious conversation around the development and quality of rural education in India.
The most important question is why this is happening.

The 8th grade is the last year of compulsory schooling in India. And while the students are passed to the following grade, they are expected to have mastered foundational skills/concepts and progressed beyond their basic understanding level. This is where the problem lies. If a 5th grade student is not able to read a 2nd grade level text, then promoting them to the next class will not add value to their learning.

As a result, students will feel undue pressure to perform better in forthcoming classes despite understanding the previous subjects.

“ASER has been very successful at illuminating the learning crisis, bringing learning to the forefront of policy and education discourse nationally and internationally,” writes Rastee Chaudhary about the ASER.

The other findings from the report show how the percentages for basic reading and arithmetic skills are consistently dropping as the years pass.

Other important findings that highlight the need for quality education:

  • There has been a decline in the basic reading and arithmetic skills of students in the 3rd and 5th grades in India.
  • The drops in basic reading ability for 8th grade students, who could read at least basic text, fell from 73% in 2018 to 69.6% in 2022.
  • The percentage of students in the 3rd grade who were able to read at the level of the 2nd grade dropped from 27.3% in 2018 to 20.5% in 2022.
  • 3rd grade students who were able to do at least subtract dropped from 28.2% in 2018 to 25.9% in 2022.
  • 5th graders across India who can do division decreased from 27.9% in 2018 to 25.6% in 2022.

These statistics highlight that, though the students are progressing academically, they are not really understanding or absorbing what they are learning. Even after multiple trials and attempts, they are unable to meet the expected level of learning required for their respective classes.

More than a decade’s worth of slow but steady learning gains wiped out by pandemic school closures. We all have to work extra hard to give these children back the future they deserve. - Anustup Nayak

While the report states the severity of the situation, there’s a positive side as well.

8th graders’ ability to read basic English sentences increased from 45.3% in 2016 to 46.7% in 2022.

Though this slight improvement might seem like an achievement, the students need to perform as per their expected learning level, so that they don’t fall behind in their future classes. Eventually, leading them to become a part of the learning gap.


https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/news/story/50-class-5-students-cannot-read-text-of-class-2-level-10-highlights-from-the-aser-education-report-1431859-2019-01-16 https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/17th-aser-2022 https://www.thehindu.com/education/after-the-pandemic-school-enrolment-rose-but-learning-gaps-widened-aser-report-2022/article66398324.ece https://www.nextias.com/current-affairs/19-01-2023/annual-status-of-education-report-aser-2022 https://www.prepladder.com/upsc-study-material/current-affairs/highlights-of-annual-status-of-education-report-aser https://twitter.com/anustup_nayak/status/1615755304666542081?ref https://twitter.com/asercentre/status/1631581060676079616?cxt=HHwWgMDS_ZCVxaQtAAAA
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