According to the New Curriculum Framework developed by the Ministry of Education, board examinations are set to take place twice a year, allowing students the choice to retain their best scores. The objective is to create exams that are “easier” and less high-stakes. Additionally, the framework urges boards to build the capacity to eventually conduct “on-demand” examinations.
The NCF document, accessible by PTI, also emphasizes the need to eliminate rigid distinctions between Arts and Sciences, curricular and extra-curricular activities, and vocational and academic streams.
To facilitate this, the NCF suggests that board exams be offered biannually, affording students ample time and opportunities to perform well. The framework proposes the creation of a comprehensive test item bank that can be utilized with appropriate software to generate tests. This move aims to eventually transition towards a system of on-demand exams, as outlined in the NEP 2020.
In the long term, the Ministry of Education envisions a shift towards semester or term-based systems for all boards. This approach would allow students to be examined in subjects as soon as they complete them, thereby reducing the content load assessed in any single examination.
However, this is not the first endeavor to reform board exams. The Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) was introduced for class 10 in 2009 but was revoked in 2017, returning to the previous model of year-end exams. During the pandemic, board exams for classes 10 and 12 were temporarily split into two terms, although the year-end examination format was reinstated for crucial exams this year.
The NCF, formulated by the national steering committee under the leadership of former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, also proposes replacing the current practice of segregating into Science, Arts or Humanities, and Commerce streams. Instead, the new design aims for both breadth and depth in learning experiences across disciplines.
The Kasturirangan panel observes that there has been a concerning tendency in India to perceive grades 11 and 12 merely as pathways to higher education admissions. This instrumental approach distorts the educational purpose at this stage. The NCF emphasizes that the secondary schooling stage, particularly grades 11 and 12, should not be seen solely as a selection mechanism for higher education programs.
Moreover, the NCF advocates for board examinations to assess understanding and competencies, rather than relying on months of coaching and memorization. The focus should be on providing an accurate and reliable representation of student performance based on the curriculum’s competencies. Boards of Examination are entrusted with the responsibility to create fair, reliable, and valid testing processes and instruments for certifying students based on their achievements in these competencies.