Competency-based education project - CBSE aims to strengthen the capacity of schools to deliver high-quality competency-based lessons, particularly in science, maths and English (reading).

We are working with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) at the secondary level (classed 6 to 10) to improve competency-based assessment through this initiative.

This project aligns with the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP 2020), the largest educational transformation agenda in India in 30 years. The NEP 2020 calls for a ‘shift from [an assessment system] that is summative and primarily tests rote memorisation skills to one that is more regular and formative, is more competency-based, promotes learning development for our students, and tests higher-order skills, such as analysis, critical thinking and conceptual clarity (4.34, p17) and ‘encouraging and helping school boards to shift their assessment patterns towards meeting the skills requirements of the 21st century (4.41, p19).

The project’s vision is for secondary students to experience deep learning in the classroom where they can acquire the skills they need to succeed in higher education and the global workplace, and they can prove their capability through effective assessment that challenges them to demonstrate their skills.


The project is working at a systemic level to move from a content-based approach to a competency-based approach. We are doing this by building capacity and developing resources in a participatory and inclusive manner.

The project’s objectives are:

  • To enable better learning outcomes for students in the education system through improved assessment in reading (English), science and maths through the creation of a competency-based learning framework for classes 6 to 10 with competencies mapped to themes, knowledge and context.
  • To build system capacity to design and deliver global standard competency-based assessment at the secondary level by setting standards for test items and assessment tools, creating a bank of over 1,500 items as samples and training 40 assessment designers and 180 master test item writers.
  • To build the ability of schools to create the skills and environment in which high-quality competency-based education is provided by supporting 2,000 teachers with training in competency-based pedagogy and opportunities to join virtual teacher activity groups where they can develop their skills in lesson planning and key competencies together, furthermore more than 14,000 teachers will also be supported through a bank of integrated lessons that map to the competencies and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Key activities

  • Reviewing the current assessment process and system for maths, science and English at CBSE Standard X and providing recommendations for improvement and opportunities for reform
  • Developing assessment frameworks for maths, science and reading (English)
  • Creating a selection process for assessment designers and test item writers in collaboration with CBSE
  • Developing resources and a handbook for assessment designers
  • Developing a question bank and compendium of lesson plans available on the digital DISKHA platform for teachers
  • Developing capacity-building resources for item writers, master trainers and mentors
  • Training teachers in competency-based pedagogy and test item writing
  • Mentoring teachers in specific domains through virtual subject teacher action groups (E-STAGs) and providing peer support through the creation of interest group communities
  • Building senior leadership capacity to manage education system change and empowering them to drive change

Progress and outcome

Thus far in the project:

  • UK NARIC conducted a detailed review of the current assessment system for CBSE Standard X maths, science, and English and submitted a comprehensive report of its findings.
  • An assessment framework for science, maths and English for classes six to ten has been developed based on the NCERT curriculum and CBSE syllabus; these will provide guidance for those writing pen and paper tests.
  • 40 assessment designers are receiving training in the theory which underpins assessment design; this will enable them to design and create assessments for their subjects that deliver valid and reliable results.