For students, Class 10 boards mark an end of an eventful chapter of their lives. It is not only the end of an eventful — some say, the most wondrous — chapter of their lives but also the beginning of their semi-adult life. In many families across India, the approaching ‘boards’ means everything else is put on hold, be it travel, a movie or eating out. The reason being board results determines many things of a student’s future: Getting the right combination of subjects of the next two years and a spot in a reputed school. But this burden of expectation puts pressure on students and parents and this was one of the main reasons for the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to scrap the Class X boards five years ago. This week, however, the CBSE announced that it was doing away with the policy that offered a choice to students to opt for the board-conducted finals or let the institution assess their performance. The board exam in CBSE schools was scrapped by the UPA and replaced with the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) through year-round tests and a grading system.
So what made CBSE take this decision? First, most other state boards still have a 10+2 formula and that there is a need to have parity among boards for correct evaluation of students; second, along with the no-detention policy till Class 8 and this coupled with the fact that Class 12 is the first big test was problematic; and third, teachers and parents wanted this change to make their wards ‘exam-ready’ before they appear for the ‘big one’, Class 12. Unfortunately, the stakeholders did not realise the value of CCE. In a piece in this paper, wellknown educationist Krishna Kumar explained why CCE failed to take root: “Lack of coordination and clarity on roles and responsibilities expectedly resulted in systemic chaos.” Moreover, teachers, many lowly paid, was not motivated enough to put in the extra effort needed for CCE.
But why blame just the teachers? Parents also did not see merit in a new system of learning, which is practised in many other countries, but felt comfortable in the earlier system. The government and the board were only too willing to scrap it. The bottomline: Class 10 boards are back but two key questions remain unanswered: How will the board deal with the pressure that both students and parents complained about earlier, and second, who is responsible for the failure of continuous and comprehensive evaluation system?