NEW DELHI: Even as students continue to demand for cancellation of Class XII exams, many educationists are divided on the issue. While some feels that holding the exam even for “major subjects in a shorter format runs the risk of becoming a super-spreader others feel it would be unfortunate if they had to be cancelled.
CBSE’s one of the proposal was that exams to be conducted in “major subjects” and in a shorter format on which experts feel that it’s not safe to conduct any exam of more than 15 minutes and six feet social distancing is not adequate.
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Meeta Sengupta, educationist said: “Conducting the exams only for major subjects does not reduce the risk of super spreaders, it only eases the cost and workload of Covid planning. With the best of planning, now that we know that Covid spreads via aerosol and has maximum impact indoors, any exam more than 15 minutes even at 6 feet distance will be a huge covid risk. Even if we take the risk, the exam cannot be fair or equitable since neither preparation nor circumstances are fair for exams. Also these exams give no new information about student capability that is not available via results of past three-four year exams.”
Others feel that no subject should be classified as major or minor as all are important. According to Ashok Ganguly, former CBSE chairperson, “All subjects in Class XII boards are equal in regard to their importance, difficulty level or total marks. One cannt classify subjects as major or minor. We have to see the totality of the situation because whole is greater than the sum of parts. So if we need to conduct board exams, it must be in all subjects and not restricted to just few. But the major part of the exams must be completed in 12 working days and as far as possible, the student may be allowed to appear in board exams from their schools.”
Citing deaths of large number of teachers during election duty, AK Jha, principal of Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Rohini, Delhi said that putting so many people at risk is avoidable. “Each paper will be of three hours and minutes. In addition is the commuting to the centre. Different states are peaking at different times, thereby making the conduct of exams on the same date impractical. This will involve lakhs of students and lakhs of teachers in thousands of centres on approximately 12 to 15 days. Putting so many people at risk is totally avoidable.”
Ashok Pandey, director of Ahlcon Group of Schools feel that if necessary online exam is an option, but nothing should precede wellbeing of the students. “If at all, only online for two or three papers. The question is how to make it transparent and monitored? Then extrapolating the marks to other subjects is also an issue. But I personally believe that in the extra ordinary situations, empathy, concern for wellbeing should precede any effort to conduct online exam,” said Pandey adding that school based evaluation under an overall standard guideline from the CBSE should be pursued.
On whether the exams should be cancelled, while some feels it may will not reflect the true and objective assessment and also may lead to disincentives for hard-working intelligent students, others think it could reduce the risk of another super-spreader event and colleges can find innovative ways for admissions.
According to Ganguly, “It will be unfortunate if Class XII Board exams are cancelled. Class XII is last stage of school education and if a student is promoted without any exam, may be summative one, it will not reflect the true and objective assessment. In any case, the evaluation must have reliability, validity and credibility. We cannot adopt the processes being employed in Class X assessment because both the stages are distinct apart. Then there will be problem of undergraduate admission because any assessment which is not credible, cannot be a part of a screening or elimination process. Then there will challenges of ensuring uniformity across boards.”
Vipin Kumar Aggarwal, principal of Sri Aurobindo college believes that “to have standardized and fair academic evaluation common examination is necessary. If it is not conducted it will lead to disincentivize hard-working intelligent students and admission to the higher educational institution will not be fair.” He suggested that instead of conducting board exams on multiple days, there could be a provision made where students can come for only one or two days for physical exams. “These exams can have multiple components from multiple subjects in an MCQ format and students can choose the components they want to according to what they want to study in their undergraduate programme.”
Jha however disagrees and said the exams may be cancelled without any negative consequences. He said: “The same pattern may be used which has been used for preparing Class X results which is on the basis of tests and pre-board exams conducted by the school. Alternatively, a two-hour common exam may be conducted by NTA as an aptitude test. These scores can be used for admissions in various courses/ colleges.”
While Sengupta said: “Cancelling exams could reduce the risk of super-spreader events, not just the exam but the marking also. As for admission to further education, colleges can find innovative ways,” Pandey believes that “The positive for cancellation of the exam will be that students will lose uncertainty and anxiety. No child is in a mental frame to write examination. But it immediately turns into another anxiety about the standard processes to prepare result. It’s a tough call.”