The primary objective of the ASER survey is to generate estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels at district, state, and national levels; and to measure changes in these parameters over time. The ASER sampling strategy reflects these objectives.
ASER is done in all rural districts of India. It is a household-based survey, not a school-based one. This enables children who are not in school and those who are in different types of schools to be included.
ASER samples households, not children. All children age 3-16 who are resident in sampled households are included in the survey. Enrolment information is recorded for all such children, while learning assessments are done with children in the 5-16 age group.
In each district, 30 villages are sampled from the Census 2001 village list using Probability Proportional to Size (PPS), a widely used sampling technique. In each village, 20 households are randomly sampled. This gives a total of 600 sampled households in each rural district, or about 3,00,000 households at the all India level.
The sample design employs a rotating panel of villages. Each year, 10 villages from three years ago are dropped and 10 new villages are added. For example, in ASER 2010, 10 villages from ASER 2007 were dropped, 10 villages from 2008 and 2009 were retained and 10 new villages from the census village directory of 2001 were added.
This strategy generates a representative picture of each district. All rural districts are surveyed. The estimates obtained are then aggregated to the state and all-India levels using appropriate weights. A more detailed description of the ASER sampling process is available here.