When union human resource development minister, Prakash Javadekar, announced his intent to return to the conventional board examinations for class X in order to promote homogenisation in education, it was met with a mixed response. The no-detention policy adopted by the Central Board of Secondary Education schools for was an attempt to lighten the burden of studies and provide some space for extra-curricular activities. Students were motivated to look beyond textbooks, exhibit their talent and skills and indulge in extra-curricular activities. The schools provided umpteen possibilities to develop life skills, with continuous evaluation of performance throughout the year.
In its overwhelming desire to include many dimensions under its ambit, the existing Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation system created another kind of burden, those of performing a variety of tasks and completing a barrage of cumulative tests, projects, activities, etc. Furthermore, the system failed to inculcate a competitive spirit amongst students due to the lack of any clear benchmark that is assured with numbers. Intelligent students also lost motivation to score that perfect 100 as they saw that even those who scored 10 marks lesser ended up with the same grade.
However, after feedback from states and representative organisations of parents and teachers, the common consensus was that doing away with the board exams along with the no-detention policy was hampering academic standards. Following this consensus, the government recently announced the reintroduction of board exam from this academic year.
With increased stress on allied activities, teachers were also burdened with extra work such as record maintenance, continuous grading, mentoring in every project which kept them away from their core responsibility of teaching. Even after CBSE launched massive training programmes for instructors, the pressure was enormous on the teaching staff.
Now, with the return of board exams, teachers can breathe a sigh of relief and focus on their teaching wholeheartedly.
The board exams is the first step towards achieving the goal a student has set in his/her life. It is considered as a qualifying examination to decide a suitable academic stream and also a good benchmark to assess level of learning and knowledge. As such, a good performance in the board exam has motivated students and positively influenced their study strategies.
This exam will play a crucial role in ensuring discipline to take studies seriously. This pattern adopted a lax attitude and concentrated more on activities. Students had no fear of board exams and academics took a back seat. Under CCE, marks were replaced with grades, which were given through a series of curricular and extra-curricular assessments. There was a great scope of manipulation that affected the overall academic standards. The decision to reinstate board exams will help maintain balance and follow a uniform assessment procedure in schools across India.
While a majority of schools and teachers are in favour of board exams, students will have to work harder and be mature enough to handle the pressure that comes with an examination. The aim of the government was to raise the academic standards of the country, and CCE provided for tests and grading through the year as a means to reduce pressure on students. However, a large number of government school students performed poorly in Classes XI and XII. The evaluations became more demanding at the senior school level and students found it difficult to cope up with the exam pattern. With the boards, however, the pressure to outperform helps the students plan out their exam strategies in advance.
Even though studies indicated that the number of dropouts has reduced with evaluation, it failed to provide academic acumen to the young generation. The board exam was seen, by those arguing for its retention, as a means of preparing students for the more important exams in the future. Individual assessment was barely done and marks were given on the basis of group assignments. This was a highly skewed platform. With the reintroduction of board exams, all students will be given an equal chance to perform. It will increase the competitive spirit amongst students and mentally gear them up for the bigger challenges ahead.
The writer is Director, Aakash Educational Services Pvt Ltd.