Sitting in their swanky classrooms, students of RN Podar School, Santacruz stoop over their tablet screens, brows furrowed in concentration as they try to piece together a flow chart using an application on the device. One may be surprised to know these students are not playing a virtual game, but writing a school exam. Not far away, teachers wait by a computer as it generates the questions for a test they plan to administer to the students at the Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli. The computer software designs the entire question paper by selecting random questions at the click of a button. It also corrects papers.
The entire testing style in schools has undergone a sea change, with schools not restricting themselves to pen-and-paper tests anymore. RN Podar School, for instance, conducts many online tests to make students comfortable with the medium. “Competitive exams such as Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) for admissions to engineering colleges are going online,” said Avnita Bir, principal, RN Podar. Besides online tests, Euro School, Thane also tests students on guitar playing, western dance and other extra-curricular activities. “We ask students to select academic, non-academic and co-curricular clubs and they are tested on them,” said Rajani Pattabhiraman, school principal.
The transition to new types of assessment has become possible thanks to the Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) pattern introduced by the Union ministry of education in 2010. Schools have to evaluate students on their performance throughout the year and also assess their behaviour, life skills and other areas. “The conventional pen-and-paper testing provides a unilateral analysis of a student’s abilities. The CCE, however, is based on the concept of multiple talents,” said Neti Srinivasan, COO, Ryan Group of Schools.
An estimated 1,200 schools across the country have started offering ASSET (Assessment of Scholastic Skills through Educational Testing ) conducted by a private company, Educational Initiatives, started by the alumni of IIM-Ahmedabad. It is a skill-based assessment on crucial subjects such as Maths, Science and English.
“Schools are opting for it because unlike regular tests, it measures how well a student has understood concepts and not how much she knows,” said Sridhar Rajagopalan, managing director, Educational Initiatives.
Many schools have made these tests compulsory. “All our students from Class 3 to 10 have to appear for this test once a year, over and above other tests,” said Seema Buch, principal, Gundecha Academy. VIBGYOR School, Goregaon even has additional tests for pre-school students. “The pre-school bee, tests the language skills such as spelling and vocabulary of the tiny tots,” said Shim Matthews, principal of the school.
However, educationists warn schools against conducting too many assessments. “The government has also introduced competency tests for students to identify their learning levels in first language and mathematics,” said Basanti Roy, former divisional secretary of the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education. “Schools should be careful not to saddle students with too many tests. They could get wary of appearing for too many tests in a year.” “Schools are looking at various kinds of assessment as its no longer only about teaching the subject matter,” said Meera Isaacs, principal, Cathedral and John Connon School, Fort.
VIBGYOR High School, Goregaon
Diagnostic tests: The school asks students to appear for the ASSET exam, a diagnostic test that measures the writing, numerical and reading skills of the students. The tests help in benchmarking the students’ performance nationally as well as internationally
Test for pre-schoolers: A pre-school bee is conducted to test the language skills of the tiny tots of the school. It tests their vocabulary and spelling abilities
Aptitude tests: It is mandatory for students to appear for career guidance tests conducted by the school counsellors after Class 8. The module for testing is taken from external agencies and based on its results the counsellors guide students.
Euro School, Thane
Testing extra-curricular activities: Children are tested on western dance, guitar playing or skating and other activities that they have chosen. It is mandatory for students to pick academic, non-academic and co-curricular clubs and they are tested on them
Speaking and listening skills: Along with oral exams, the school also conducts aural assessments, which are designed to test the speaking and listening skills of the students
Online tests: Teachers conduct several tests online using the school’s web portal and computer labs. It has also opted for ASSET
Cathedral & John Connon School, Fort
Curiosity gym: A curiosity hub or gym has been recently started for middle school and senior students. Children are asked to explore different concepts and ideas for themselves. Digital machines such as 3D doodling, image-making are provided.
Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli
Computer generated tests: The question papers for the tests are generated using software that picks questions randomly. The tests are a surprise for both students and teachers
Utpal Shanghvi School, Juhu
Listening skills: To prepare students for competitive exams such as TOEFL and SATs, students listening skills are assessed from Class 1 itself. Depending on the grade, a sentence or an entire paragraph is read out loud to the students and they have to answer questions on it
Check point exams: In Class 6 and 8, check point exams are conducted by the Cambridge International Examinations body. It highlights the strengths and the weaknesses of the students
RN Podar School, Santacruz
Open book exams: Students are provided material in the form of case studies and they have to answer questions based on it. This requires students to apply multiple concepts to the situations
Online tests: Many online tests are given, these usually include multiple choice questions. One test is given using an application, Graphic organiser, available on iPads. Students are required to complete flow charts online
(Inputs from Aayushi Pratap and Musab Qazi)