Haryana, Odisha, and Assam are the big states that have improved the most from 2015-16 to 2016-17 in the second edition of the school education quality index, released by NITI Aayog.
Karnataka, along with Uttarakhand, saw the biggest drop.
The rankings — based on parameters like the number of schools with the largest number of toilets for girl children, the average score of students in mathematics and language in classes III, V, and VIII, the transition rate of students from primary to upper primary levels and also from upper primary levels to secondary level — show that Kerala and Tamil Nadu continue to grab top slots among the big states.
Uttar Pradesh continued to remain at the bottom with 36.4 per cent in overall performance among large states.
The rankings, called the 'The Success of Our Schools-School Education Quality Index' (SEQI) and jointly released by the NITI Aayog, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, and the World Bank, alongside sectoral experts, is based on indexing of states and Union Territories on the learning outcomes for school-going children.
SEQI, which used 2016-17 as the reference year and 2015-16 as the base year, was developed to evaluate the performance of states and Union Territories (UTs) in the school education sector.
Among UTs, Delhi, along with Chandigarh, has retained its overall performance and rank between 2015-16 and 2016-17.
In the eight states in the small states category, the rankings show that five have shown an improvement of which three, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Goa stood out with gains of 14.1, 13.5 and 8.2 percentage points while Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram have shown a drop.
The overall performance score for the large states ranged from 76.6 per cent for Kerala to 36.4 per cent for Uttar Pradesh.
The index, prepared on the basis of 30 indicators, was divided into two broad categories — outcomes that consisted of learning, access, infrastructure & facilities, and equity outcomes; and governance processes aiding outcomes.
It provides states and UTs with a platform to identify their strengths and weaknesses and undertake requisite course corrections or policy interventions, NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said at the report launch here.
"In line with the Niti Aayog's mandate to foster the spirit of competitive and cooperative federalism, the index strives to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and best practices across states and UTs," Kant said.
The report highlighted that amid challenges of improving learning outcomes, educational access and infrastructure are continuing for states and UTs and require more focus and investments.
"The index comprises indicators that will help steer a state/UT's efforts to improve the delivery of quality education. It is hoped that the index provides instructive feedback to them and non-governmental service providers to drive crucial reforms and encourage innovation in cost-effective policy approaches," the report said.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said time has now come to not only focus on access to education but on quality when it comes to the country's school education system.
"Now, we see more children in our schools but how much is the learning outcome is the key as school education is the foundation to prepare the future generation," Kumar said.