Punjab Education Minister urges Centre to hold consultations on alternative assessment formula.
Following the Central government’s decision to cancel the CBSE Class 12 exams due to the pandemic, several State boards have followed suit. The BJP-ruled Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat were the first to announce cancellation on Wednesday, but Central officials expect a majority of States to follow their cue.
“During the consultation with State governments last week, most of them indicated that they were looking to the CBSE as a reference point. A majority of State boards are now likely to cancel their exams as well,” a senior Education Ministry official told The Hindu.
“If they instead choose to hold their own board exams later, and postpone it too much, it is their own students who will suffer once the higher education admission season begins. That is one reason this [cancellation] was done, so that the next academic session is not too badly impacted. We have learnt the lesson from last year,” said the official.
States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh said they are still considering their options and will take a decision in a day or two. Maharashtra Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad tweeted her appreciation of the CBSE cancellation and said the State board would also take a decision “keeping students’ health and safety in mind”. The State has previously said the Centre and States need to follow a uniform policy.
Keeping States in the loop
Punjab Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla also called for the Centre to coordinate better with States. “Out of the blue, they come out with a decision which was half-baked. We agree exams are cancelled in the interests of children, but they should have consulted and rolled out a plan on the alternative assessment formula and then made an announcement,” he told The Hindu.
“The government of India should convene a meeting, so States can input into whatever formula is being worked out. Every State board looks up to the CBSE, and we want to ensure that our children are not being left behind,” he said.
CBSE officials say it will take time to structure the criteria for Class 12 evaluation. “There is no need for students to panic. Tomorrow, we will inform the Supreme Court of the decision to cancel. Then we will start working on the assessment methodology. It will take 10-12 days in preparation of policy,” said CBSE’s controller of examinations Sanyam Bhardwaj.
Another CBSE official indicated that two main options are being considered. “One option is to grade students based on their internal assessment and practical exam marks in Class 12, just as we are doing for Class 10 students. To prevent mark inflation by schools, the students’ grades would be rationalised based on the last three years’ board examination performance of the school. The mark distribution given by the school should be in tune with the historical data,” said the official.
“The other option is to use the average of the Class 9, 10 and 11 marks. But this may not be reliable, because there may not be consistency over three years, plus the subjects taken by students in Class 11 and 12 are different,” said the official.
Preparing for future
The senior Education Ministry official said school boards must also strengthen their continuous assessment methods going forward, considering the possibility that COVID may prevent Class 12 exams even in 2022.
“In a way, this can be seen as a blessing in disguise, if school boards are forced to realise it is possible to grade children without a singular focus on the year end exam alone. Students face so much pressure to do well on that one day, but there is more to education than that,” said the official, adding that guidelines were being developed to encourage regular unit tests and project work in State board schools as well.
“Maybe this will also convince prestigious colleges like [those in] Delhi University to find other admission methods, rather than Class 12 marks becoming a do-or-die situation.”