A continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system will replace the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class IX exam this year and Class X boards next year.
With little time left to train teachers, students and parents, are schools ready to implement the new evaluation system that challenges rote learning?
In English, for instance, the child will be tested through observation (diction, fluency, content knowledge, sensitivity towards environment etc).
Thus a teacher has to study each student carefully and be aware of all his strengths and weaknesses. But given the size of an average classroom — with 40 to 45 students — in the country, teachers will have a mammoth task at hand.
The new system will also grade students on scholastic and co-scholastic skills.
These skills things like attitude towards teachers, school programmes and understanding of values, thinking and emotional skills and creative and scientific activities.
“How can you observe 40 to 50 children in a classroom on the basis of their diction, word power or involvement?" said an English teacher of a leading private school in Delhi, not willing to be quoted.
“The sheer number of students and the in-depth analysis required makes it a Herculean task. Moreover, the test will be subjective since each teacher thinks differently,” she said.
For instance in Delhi government schools, there is a shortage of 1,000 teachers in senior schools. How will teachers cope with the added work?
Does the CBSE have the resources and the capacity to provide in-depth training to 1.6 lakh teachers teaching classes IX and X across 11,000 schools affiliated to it?
Notably, 8.24 lakh students took the Class X board exam in 2009 and almost the same number would be studying in Class IX in this academic session.
“The CCE has already been implemented up to Class VIII in CBSE schools. So teachers and students are aware about how it works. We will begin by training 33,000 teachers,” said CBSE chairperson Vineet Joshi.
In the absence of a monitoring mechanism, most CBSE schools still assess students through quarterly tests.
Experts also feel that the government is rushing its reform agenda. “Shifting from rote learning is a great idea. But the CBSE must first spend time educating its teachers and parents on why the changes are necessary and how they will be carried out,” said Sridhar Rajagopalan, president of Educational Initiatives, which conducts assessment tests in schools.