Varthana offers loans to affordable private schools so that schools can improve the quality of the education they provide. Offering both secured and unsecured loans, Varthana’s School Transformation Program (STP) is a two-year engagement designed to improve student learning levels. Schools that achieve certain targets in learning outcomes that are higher than expected qualify for reduced interest on these loans. Since the program hinges on quantifiable improvements in learning outcomes, Varthana brought in GMI to assess the schools that are a part of this program and to set the targets attached to the loans.


Assessment Snapshot in Year 3









The Problem

As a school financer, Varthana wanted to know how to set targets that are fair for schools to reach within the time period of the loan and how to accurately determine whether those targets have been met. The challenge for GMI is to make reasonable predictions for what language and math skills students should be able to learn over the course of the year, given the resources that a school has. The challenge also lies in ensuring that growth in learning outcomes is captured accurately in a standardised manner.


GMI conducts assessments in three rounds and over a period of two years, measuring the growth achieved by each school in Varthana’s STP program. After every round of assessment, the Ed-specialists at Varthana go back to each school, explain the findings and provide guidance on how the school can improve.

Over half the schools have succeeded in meeting targets set by GMI and improved their learning outcomes more than was expected. This is a one-of-its kind social experiment where payments are linked to outcomes, that has scaled from 30 schools 350 schools in three years. The project is also unique in that all the players are for-profit private businesses coming together to create impact.


School Certificates given to Varthana-funded schools

Our Approach

Setting reasonable targets

Each year, GMI’s team develops national learning benchmarks for what a child should know at each grade, based on a representative data sample taken from the previous year. For example, an average Grade III student should be able to understand the relationship between words in a sentence, sentences in a paragraph, and be able to retrieve explicitly stated information from a text. Our team uses this benchmark to determine what reasonable targets are for Varthana’s partner schools to meet within a given time period.

Holistic measurements with in-school observations

In addition to measuring the child’s overall learning outcomes, our team included several metrics to identify and track softer aspects of the teaching style through classroom observations in the baseline testing so that schools could identify areas of improvement in teaching as well.

Standardised assessments with a personal touch

Our standardised assessments are drawn from the subject matter in the National Curriculum Framework but customised for Hindi-medium schools and state curriculums. Furthermore, GMI’s exams test for how skills can be applied in practical situations.

Rely on our assessments to make better decisions with data.

We work with a wide range of clients including funders, social responsibility arms of corporates, non-profits as well as government and private schools.