An expert speaks: Class 10 exam may put spotlight back on academic feat

The CBSE’s governing body’s decision, as reported in the media, to bring the board exam back in Class 10 has created intense debate. The decision has come after a series of interactions with a section of stakeholders. The support for the move came from many parents, schools, and academia.

The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) was introduced six years ago, with very high objectives. It aimed to reduce pressure on children, to shift focus from the academic subjects and scoring of marks to overall evaluation, to encourage the development of life skills and to promote talent in co-scholastic areas. For this to happen, the teacher preparation, parent orientation, training in administering formative assessment and introduction of new pedagogies were essential.

All these perhaps did not occur at the pace required. The inadequate preparation to manage the change resulted in CCE failing to take off in most schools. Though there are several examples of proper implementation of the CCE across the country. The completely misunderstood formative assessments were used for assessing children and not for evaluating teaching methods. It only added to the number of exams to test how much has been learnt instead of measuring how learning was progressing.

To make things worse, the general impression that went around was that CCE is giving undue advantage to those who do not deserve. Also, it is not suitably rewarding talent and high academic performance. Great percentages in the earlier scheme were replaced by perfect CGPAs. Some even believed that academic standards are being compromised. Other facts that emerged were the performance of children in Class 11, not showing enough correlation with the accomplishment at Class 10. It may not have equally significantly affected Class 12 result because a lot of filtering takes place in Class 11.

All this should not be blamed on CCE alone. If the purpose was good and the objective was not realised, the causes must be attributed to a whole lot of factors in between. The standards of quality education cannot be defined by a single parameter of assessment. The teacher preparedness, professional growth, curriculum, class size, defining learning objectives, differential learning experiences together set the standards.

Bringing the board exam back may address the academic issues and concerns. It may put the spotlight back on high academic performance. The internal assessment in the CCE format or any other may be deployed to retain the essence of developing co-scholastic qualities. Schools may also have to rearrange their curriculum in a manner that benefits accrued earlier are not annulled. How the CBSE envisions to roll out the new scheme will be seen with curiosity. What is certain is that we have to brace up for a change. What? Change again!

Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International School, Delhi, chairman National Progressive Schools Committee. (Views expressed in the article are personal)

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