By doing away with moderation, CBSE moves towards a level scoring field
By dropping the policey of ‘moderation’ of results, the Central Board of Secondary Education is moving towards greater transparency and objectivity in its evaluation processeditorials Updated: Apr 25, 2017 15:32 IST
The country’s biggest school board appears to be moving towards creating a level playing field and enhancing transparency. Backed by the ministry of human resource development, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to do away with the policy of ‘moderation’ of results: It won’t award students extra marks in exams for difficult questions, said to be the reason behind inflated scores in Class 12 board exams — which in turn lead to impossibly high cut-offs.
This is a departure from the past when the CBSE and state boards used to dole out between 10% and 15% extra marks in ‘difficult’ subjects such as mathematics and physics in the name of moderation. However, these extra marks were subject to a ceiling of 95%. This implied that the scores of students getting 80% to 85% were enhanced, but someone getting 95% or above did not benefit from this. Not just was this unfair to those who were scoring 95% on their own, it also drove a few Delhi University colleges to set up an unrealistic 100% as the first cut-off during admissions to undergraduate programmes. Last year, responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, minister of state for HRD Upendra Kushwaha had justified the moderation policy in the Class 12 Board examinations saying that it helped bring parity owing to an element of subjectivity in evaluation processes across the country. “The CBSE adopts a moderation policy to bring parity due to element of subjectivity in evaluation, to level up mean achievements due to difference in difficulty level of different set of question papers and to maintain parity of pass percentage of candidates ...,” he had said, in a written reply. Clearly, the ministry’s views on the subject have evolved. The CBSE hopes other state boards will follow suit. More than two crore students in India appear in Class 10 and around 1.5 crore in Class 12 exams conducted by more than 40 education boards.
Another move towards transparency is a mention on mark sheets of extra marks given to Class 12 students to help clear a paper. Known in student parlance as “grace marks”, these are given in cases where a student narrowly misses the passing marks. The mark sheet as well as the Board website will now clearly mention the extent and mechanism used to award grace marks. Critics say that the mention of grace marks may lead to a feeling of stigma among students, but its supporters argue awarding grace marks is unfair to others who manage to clear tough exams on their own. In the past, a number of state boards were using these ‘spikes’ to ensure that their pass percentage didn’t dip dramatically compared to other state boards. Although the actual impact on cut-offs may be visible only during college admissions, it is a good sign that the Board is dropping an opaque old-school method of evaluation that granted students random ‘spikes’ in grades regardless of the individual efforts they had put in.