Teaching has always been a challenging profession. Many would agree that teaching a kid is not rocket science and that rocket science would be simpler. It requires tremendous will, ability and preparation with continuous learning and support. Every day we have countless dedicated teachers tirelessly working towards educating millions of students in every nook and corner of the country.

In February 2015, the western state of Maharashtra held its annual evaluation test for teachers of government-run schools, those who teach primary grades from 1 to 4 and upper primary grades from 6 to 8.Only 1% of more than 245,800 primary teachers who took the test qualified, while in the upper primary teachers around 4.9% out of 1,42858 cleared the test. (Source: Mahatet, 2015)

Till date, there are around 4.5 lakh untrained elementary school teachers. Despite spending Rs 586,085 crore ($94 billion) over the last decade on primary education, India has been unable to arrest the decline in learning. (Source: Lok Sabha, figures till 2013)

A teacher’s effectiveness has a powerful impact on students and that teacher quality is an important in -school factor influencing student achievement.Hence for improving the quality of education, the teacher quality improvement is equally important.The conventional method of improvement is teacher feedback and the training is often linked to student learning gaps.

But what about teacher gaps-either in terms of subject content or teaching methodology? There are a number of reasons why it is critical to determine those gaps if an effective teacher feedback and training strategy is to be evolved.


Let’s look at this question that was asked to teachers in one of the tests conducted by EI.

What will be the quotient when 177177177177 is divided by 177?

  1. 1111
  2. 1001001001
  3. 100100100100
  4. 111111111111


Around 41% teachers gave the correct answer B while a significant 45% teachers answered A, which is also a common error made by students.

Many a times teachers may be unaware of their own misconceptions/ incorrect understanding that get passed on unknowingly to students. There are studies that show high correlation between the teacher misconceptions and errors made by students. Secondly,current teaching approach focus on the teacher “teaching”with little focus on finding out what students are learning and what they know. Pedagogical practices followed today are more focused on students giving right answers to questions than diagnosing reasons for the wrong answers.

A Teacher Needs Assessment (TNA) assumes relevance in this scenario. What is TNA?TNA is an assessment designed for teachers, to gather information on general ability, subject knowledge and pedagogical practices in a schooling system. Apart from this it may also have a questionnaire aimed at qualitative information. The test design is crucial to TNA and may vary depending upon the objective of the assessment. TNAs are not meant to rank or grade teachers instead present a diagnostic picture of the subject understanding in teachers.

A well designed TNA will   give insights to policy makers to make data driven decisions to identify the teaching gaps existing among teachers. It helps identify the extent to which a misconception is prevalent among the teacher population and thus guide training needs. It helps identify common strengths or weaknesses among teachers, gives feedback and recommends specific system level interventions for teacher improvement. Training programs for the teachers providing conceptual understanding and improved pedagogical practices and subject specific content knowledge for teachers can be framed better based on the results of the assessment.

TNAs will be effective only when teachers are encouraged to voluntarily improve their effectiveness and are given support. These will be helpful only when TNAs offer implementable suggestions for teachers to follow.


By Chitra Iyengar – Educational Specialist


Chitra Iyengar

Chitra Iyengar

I started out in the field of education accidentally initially, today its my choice. Am an ambivert believe in living life for the moment and love eating:)

"In order to provide each child with a whole child education, school and community leaders must relentlessly dissolve barriers and build cohesive systems that foster excellence. Only then will we fulfill our pledge to provide every child the opportunity to pursue a successful life."

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Chitra Iyengar