ASER has sought to gather information on very basic learning instruments, which are reading and arithmetic. A set of core questions have been designed which are adapted and expanded each year to explore different dimensions of schooling and learning at the elementary stage. This ensures that the data is comparable and easily collected by the surveyors. Over the years ASER has become well reputed for its novel approaches to learning issues in the field as a unique tool in the region, and at the global level too.

ASER uses a simple definition of universalization of elementary education: “every child in school and learning well”. ASER keeps the spotlight on out of school children in each district. The “last mile” is often the hardest to cover.

Further, to bringing learning to the Centre stage in all discussions of educational planning and implementation, ASER focuses on basic learning, especially reading of simple texts and simple arithmetic. To do that, it is important not only to have data but also to disseminate and discuss the findings widely within different layers of the government and among citizens more broadly. For widespread dissemination and discussion, indicators need to be simple and easy to understand. ASER aims to provide just such information.