Principals and managements of several Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE)-affiliated schools have welcomed its Special Assessment scheme for Class X and Class XII for 2022-23, and move to bifurcate the academic year into two terms and two board exams.
The CBSE in a notification on Monday announced that the syllabus will also be reduced. The reduced syllabus will be divided into two terms with two term-end exams held in October-November and February-March.
When the EducationWorld spoke to managements and principals, they mostly expressed that the decision was well thought over in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic which is replete with uncertainties, and that it would mean a reduced burden for students.
Dr Sindhura, managing director, The Narayana Group is among those who opine that the new scheme would reduce ambiguity among students. “Dividing the academic session into two terms with a Board examination at the end of each term will help students and teachers prioritize workload and bring out the best results possible. The provision to upload Internal Assessment marks on the CBSE Portal, if done in a timely manner, will allow for discrepancies in marking by various schools to be identified and rectified ahead of time. The scenario-based planning for the exams at the end of term 1 and term 2 and clearly defined weightage for marks based on the situation provides a great degree of adaptability for schools. The only point of concern is the authenticity of exam results in the case of students attempting the Term 1 and Term 2 exams from home. Some form of proctoring will have to be envisaged to ensure that no malpractice occurs during the exam,” Sindhura said.
Meanwhile, Dr M Srinivasan, founder and chairman, Gear International, Bengaluru, said that although the scheme looks great on paper, the impact will be based entirely on its implementation. “Students can master topics of 1 term and forget it. If the board is considering two board exams, a decision must be taken to assess the child’s analytical thinking and a separate section must be given in the marks sheet for this. In such a case, if in the future, the child aspires to study in institutes like the IIT, the analytical scores will matter. Having board exams set in a manner to test the actual ability of the child is important. This move is also an antidote for private coaching. If there are two board exams, there will be no question of approaching coaching centres in January and begin preparing in the last moment. Students may not be able to concentrate on private coaching which focus on only helping students with gaining high scores from a board exam perspective.”
Appreciating the efforts of CBSE to ensure that better systems are created and the problems faced last year be eliminated, Anju Vedi, principal, Greenfingers Global School Kharghar, Navi Mumbai said, “I think it’s a step in the right direction with the CBSE board introducing a very transparent assessment system. The assessment questions will promote critical thinking amongst children as against rite learning. As teachers take up new teaching patterns so these are all lead to improved learning outcomes exactly what the new education policy proposes. The board is also going to rationalize the syllabus which will reduce the burden on children. I think by end of this month we should have a very clear idea of the procedures too. This is a very beneficial step which is going to help students and also help parents because it ensures there is no last-minute confusion,” she said.
Aakash Chaudhry, Managing Director, Aakash Educational Services Limited said, “The elaborate preparations made by the Board have taken into account all possible future scenarios – including school closures and online exams – during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBSE has also assured that it will continue to come up with guidelines as and when the situation demands. Reducing the syllabus and having board exams twice during in the year will greatly ease the pressure on both the teachers and the students. We also appreciate the Board’s willingness to be flexible with the exam duration (90 minutes or two hours) and exam formats (multiple choice questions or the ones that also demand long, descriptive responses), to be relevant with the pandemic situation. The Board has created room for multiple ways of assessing students. This will help in arriving at a final score that is fair and realistic.”
Mukta Nain, director, Birla High Schools said that in the current pandemic situation, having two exams is a welcome move. “A the moment, there was confusion as we did not know how to give results I exams were canceled. If the Covid situation worsens, even if one exam has been conducted, we will have something to fall back on. It will be a reliable score to fall back upon. It is also good that children can now have the syllabus divided into two parts.”
According to Dr Mona Lisa Bal, Chairperson, KiiT International School, “The division of the syllabus will enable the students to learn more by increasing their focus on each subject. Conducting the examinations in two parts will also help establish the seriousness of the board exams. Additionally, the bifurcation of the exams will give them an exposure to get accustomed to board exams, thereby, inculcating a positive stance among the examinees. The new declaration also emphasizes on internal assessments – this, along with the objective pattern of the exams will only amplify the knowledge that the students will gain from their learning. Moreover, the splitting of the curriculum means lesser pressure on the students, which in turn will allow the students to dedicate more time and effort to comprehend their subjects. Concept based learning is ultimately the best way to impart education and these measures announced by the CBSE board is a leap towards a better tomorrow. In conclusion, this is a positive and productive move by the board.”
According to Sangeeta Hajela, Principal, DPS Indirapuram, “The circular mentions certain key , unprecedented changes ; the first being the division of the syllabus, duly rationalised , in two terms , and the term-end examinations being conducted by CBSE, in a particular window in the months of November and December. So the dependence on only ONE examination for computing the results, has been minimised, ensuring the credibility of the Board’s result. A well- thought out move, it has provided for the unpredictability of the ‘waves’ and the last minute cancellation of examinations, changes and hurried decision-making. It is a complete plan, mapping what would be done in various situations arising out of conditions prevalent at that time , hitherto unforeseen. The strengthening of the internal assessments, the project work, the uploading of marks of the internal assessments is one more laudable move. It will surely encourage children to study throughout the year and not leave serious study for the final examinations. The digital profile maintenance of each child, though challenging at the grass root level, is also a more holistic tool of evaluation. This first ever flexible management of examinations is surely a welcome move amongst the academic community. We are optimistic this will usher in a new era of examination-reforms in our country and open another door for all times to come.”
Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, DPS RNE Ghaziabad, says “the new assessment policy has addressed all the permutations and combinations of situations and has shown the schools the best way to conduct the assessments in a fair manner whatever the prevailing conditions be. The conduct of two board exams with 50 percent of the reduced syllabus is quite brilliant and will definitely ensure a more reliable result. This being said, what concerns me most is the so-called competency based question paper. The competency based questions we have come across in some subjects had questions that had parallels drawn to it. Most of these questions are confusing even for children studying in urban areas and one can imagine how a child from a rural area would fare. Their answers would be based on pure guess work. So what competency is being tested here? There should be numerous question paper samples provided to the students to ready them for the exam. I feel that pandemic is not the time to conduct such experiments on them. Many of these students are traumatised due to the deaths of their close relatives and also due to their own weak constitution. They have become quite listless and inattentive in the virtual classroom as they are no longer able to do any vigorous physical activities or sports. Even if the pandemic lets up, most parents are unwilling to send their children to school as they fear exposure. So, while the assessment pattern proposed is a good one, the CBSE needs to empower both the teachers and the students to face the new question pattern. Also the rationalised syllabus should be shared immediately so that the teachers do not waste their time teaching the deleted portions.”
Anshu Mittal, Principal, MRG School, Rohini quotes “the new assessment scheme shows immense deliberations and is completely fair to the students who study with focus consistently throughout the year. The internal assessments based assignments, projects and practicals which include critical thinking and collaborative work will really be appreciated by all the stakeholders teachers, parents and students. It will also encourage and improve students attendance participation in the school activities thereby enhancing their skills and competencies in scholastic and co-scholastic domains. Introducing the semester system is a beautiful thought, however mapping the interconnectivity of concepts and topics now in the mid-session of classes X and XII where almost half of the syllabus has been already covered by the teachers is worrisome. The syllabus for the assessment scheduled to be in the month of November and December, should have been shared with the schools in time.”