The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has left class 12 students in a lurch. While, the board on April 14, announced its decision to cancel the final exams for Class 10 students, it is yet to decide on when, how or if it will conduct the final exams for Class 12 students.
Following a high-level meeting last week, the board proposed conducting the exams between July 15 and August 26 and the result to be declared in September.
The board also suggested two options by which to conduct the exams-- conducting regular exams for 19 major subjects at notified centres or holding shorter-duration exams at the school where a student is enrolled.
Union education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank sought detailed suggestions from state governments by May 25 regarding which option they would prefer.
Most states opted for the second option of holding shorter duration exams.
Meanwhile, ever since the first Covid-induced national lockdown was announced in March last year, most school shave been shut.
Amid these developments, principals of many schools believe that though we shouldn’t completely do away with board exams, we shouldn’t make it the primary tool of evaluating students’ academic potential.
And with the Covid pandemic still far from over, many principals have also questioned the need and logic behind forcing students to appear for a public exam and have raised concerns about examination centres becoming hotspots with students becoming infection spreaders.
And while board exams are held to certify students with certain skillsets, can a 90-minute-long test really assess the complete competency of a child? Here’s what some of the educators across the country have to say.
1) Nikita Tomar Mann
Principal, Indraprastha Global School, Noida
"The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled education institutions to rethink the near complete dependence of our education system on year-end examinations.
As an educator, I feel, we cannot rely on annual exams alone, to determine the future trajectory of a student's career. With the diverse variables that exist within the education system of our country, at the end of the day, some component of the overall performance of the student must be drawn from a centralised, uniform and standardized external examination. We must devise a system of result computation where a two-year academic record of a student is taken into account. For instance, grades IX and X should be considered as one comprehensive unit while Grades XI and XII as another unit. A percentage component from Grade IX for Grade X result and similarly, of Grade XI for grade XII result should be incorporated.
As IX and XI are school-based exams, an external exam too can carry a smaller percentage of weightage to add credibility to the final result. Multiple and varied types of internal assessments, regular submission of work, class participation, practical work and subject enrichment activities can take centre stage right from Grade IX for Grade X result and Grade XI for Grade XII results. This would help us assess a student more holistically. Overseas universities too, consider a student's academic record of the past few years to assess the academic profile of a student."
2) Sangeeta Hajela
Principal, DPS Indirapuram
The cancellation of the Class 10 board examinations under the present situation was not a happy solution but was perhaps the only feasible solution amid the current circumstances.
Broadly speaking, the Class 10 examination should be taken as an important assessment tool to evaluate students’ over learning till grade 10. The exams also help the learner identify his strengths and weaknesses; and are a pointer regarding the road to be taken ahead, as far as one’s choice of subjects is concerned. Surely, it provides the necessary direction to an examinee to ‘know thyself’. We see youngsters take on the challenge and develop the right focus, attitude and various skillsets while preparing for the exams. The decision to cancel the exams has certainly denied this opportunity and slowed the journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.
Students prepare earnestly for the board exams which have a credibility and sanctity attached to them. This creates seriousness in the learner and his family and in fact all the stakeholders, and is thus a reliable tool with wide acceptance. We have personally seen students go on a learning-spree, in order to do well in these prestigious examinations, may be with an underlining desire to be acknowledged by the family, school and society. Thus, the cancellation has robbed many future scholars of such an opportunity, which they might have waited for since childhood.
However, the cancellation has paved way for futuristic thinking. We should all take this opportunity to realise that in future too there can be situations when examinations may not be conducted. What needs to be done throughout the year in case such a situation arises again, be it at class 10th level or at class 12th level, is a valid moot point requiring a lot of debate and deliberation. Surely, a system must evolve to assess the students in such a way that in case the final examinations are not conducted, the results would still be highly authentic and dependable. But till that happens, Class 10 board exams have little to replace them.
3) Swati Ganguly
Ex -principal and Co-Founder of EDUFIQ
Board exams are not a necessity especially during the Covid pandemic. Throughout the past year, online teaching may not have been highly effective in every school and this can be due to various technological constraints. Further, we may not have been able to deliver the desired learning outcomes required for students to write a formal board exam. The MCQ questions, for example, require in-depth knowledge of the subject which may not have happened during online classes. Effective study for writing a board exam cannot be taken under a broad umbrella assuming that every student has been taught effectively. While the exam system should ensure objectivity, it should also ensure justice for all examinees.
Throughout the past year, Continuous Comprehensive Internal Evaluation has taken place in most if not all schools, ensuring that the progress of each student has been chartered. These grades or scores are verifiable measures of students’ attainment of learning outcomes in subjects across the curriculum. Therefore, the scores attained by these children in the internal evaluation conducted by the schools should be considered for their promotion to the next level.
If an examination at the end of the academic year is inevitable, education policymakers can consider permitting students to take the examination from their homes in Covid times, and there is enough and mature technology that can help facilitate remote examinations even with proctoring functionalities as human aided or AI-enabled. Consideration must be taken to look into possibilities to adopt tech in COVID situations for examinations, and also build a sustainable model post COVID when in new-normal circumstances when schools re-open. Therefore, designing a progressive and sustainable assessment tool for student grading is critical and essential, and should be of a kind that tests not knowledge re-call but knowledge application.
4) Sanjay Tyagi
Chairman, St. Froebel Sr. Sec. School, New Delhi
Over the years board exams have become a part and parcel of every student’s life. The success or failure in these exams holds the key to academic future. Parents and children often lay excessive importance over performance in these exams. Relying on these high-stake examinations only spurs cut throat competitions, stress and depression in children. Should a mere examination be given such great importance in a child’s life that failure or scoring less marks can lead him to face acute depression? Exams don’t assess abilities they merely provide a snapshot of the knowledge an individual has been able to retain at a given point of time. Board exams are outdated practice and cause undue stress. Remembering facts does not lead to success in the real world. Vision, problem solving ability, practicality, communication skills, teamwork etc are important as far as success is concerned. It is better to junk 10+2 format.
Is it really necessary to conduct board exams? What purpose do they serve? Problem of examination is the most taxing problem of education. Stress, strain, depression, suicides are the unfortunate consequences of present examination system. If we can solve it there will be a great relief to the students and the very face education will be different. In order to reform the examination system in our country, the Mudaliar Commission laid stress on the use objective types tests and internal assessments. Kothari Commission too repeated these reforms. Despite all such reports we continue to remain exam obsessed. Board exams do not help to create independent thinker, they only ensure certain kind of admission for higher education. Those who fail to do so are labelled as incompetent.
The time has come when we need to overhaul our outdated, unfruitful education system. Elimination of board exam at all levels is the need of the hour. The National Education Policy 2020 is also firmly in place to steer the system. Board exams are inessential and superfluous hence must be jettisoned. We need to focus on student’s experiential learning and ways to assess what they know, what they can apply and how they sustain their learning and not what they can remember. It will rid students and schools of rankings, comparisons and competitions. Our aim should be to create thinkers and not mnemonics.