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CBSE Board exams and more: Too many decisions too quickly?

CBSE’s season of circulars began on January 31, when it announced restoration of the Class 10 Board exams from the 2017-18 session, replacing CCE

education Updated: Mar 25, 2017 15:35 IST
Class 10 students will have to write Board exams from next year.  They also have to study a sixth vocational subject.
Class 10 students will have to write Board exams from next year. They also have to study a sixth vocational subject. (Jagtinder Singh Grewal/Hindustan Times)

Is the recent storm of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) circulars leaving schools and parents confused? The answer could be yes given the Board’s March 16 advisory to school heads to “familiarise themselves with the content (of its circulars) in the light of the confusion created by some of the schools with regard to the recent circulars issued by CBSE”. The fact that a two-semester system for Classes 6 to 8 was announced soon after on March 21, seems to have added to the chaos.

CBSE’s season of circulars began on January 31, when it announced restoration of the Class 10 Board exams from the 2017-18 session, replacing CCE (Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) with a remodelled assessment structure. The current CCE tests students through the year, reducing the burden of studies. Each semester has two formative tests to help students assess their strengths and work on weaknesses and one summative test to assess the full year’s performance. From next year, students have to focus on one final annual exam. Each paper will be of100 marks - 80 for the exam and 20 for internal assessments.

Two announcements were made on March 9 for Class 10. A sixth vocational subject was added to the five (two languages, science, social science and mathematics) being studied currently. In another change for classes 11 and 12, seven electives and 34 vocational courses were dropped from the curriculum because of low enrolment.

Then a March 15 announcement said that marks of Class 9 would not be included in the Class 10 grade sheet cum certificate of performance. Schools were also directed to submit CCE result data online to the Board.

The latest circular dated March 21 is a significant one for schools, announcing a two-semester system from Class 6 onwards with half-yearly and annual examinations. It’s aimed at “increasing the confidence in the students to start preparing for Class X board examination when they join the upper primary stage in class 6.” As assessment systems and report cards differ in most schools, CBSE now wants to make it uniform everywhere to ensure students do not have any problems while migrating to other schools.

A Kendriya Vidyalaya teacher who did not wish to be named said she did not understand how students from a two-semester academic year could prepare for an annual yearly board exam. “Hopefully my school will make this clear soon,” she said. Changes in courses, marks distribution in CCE and the Board systems were easy to understand, but “schools and children need time to adjust.”

She said teachers had been overworked with the constant evaluation through CCE. “Now we are back to the old Board system again, but I don’t understand why this has been done. And what happens if a new government after the next Parliamentary elections decides to change the examination system again? What will the poor students do?”

The Class 10 Board exams will be conducted again from the 2017-18 session