Several minority-run and international schools in Mumbai will not hold the mandatory competency tests — to assess basic skills of students from Classes 1 to 8 in first language and maths skills — on October 19 and 20. They have refused to conduct the tests stating they didn’t find them useful.
Competency tests were introduced by education minister Vinod Tawde last year and they were made compulsory for schools of all boards and managements. The education department has stipulated three tests for this year, while two were held last year. A baseline exam testing students on previous year’s syllabus was conducted in July this year. The next test to be held in October is summative in nature covering everything students learnt in the first semester.
Common question papers designed by the Maharashtra State Council of Educational Research and Training are circulated to schools for the test.
But several schools have decided to skip the upcoming tests as they didn’t find them useful. “The tests were of no use to us, being affiliated to the international board our students found them to be below their level, they were too easy and students attempted it only as a fun exercise,” said Kavita Aggarwal, chief academic advisor, JBCN International Group of Schools and president of Mumbai International Schools Association.
Another reason to upset schools is that government hasn’t provided them any analysis of the results of tests conducted so far. “After every test, teachers have to manually enter scores of each student into the SARAL database but the government doesn’t give any analysis or information on areas of improvement,” said Aggarwal.
Frustrated by this, Children’s Academy Schools in Kandivli and Malad are also planning to not conduct the test. “We are seeking expert opinion to see if it’s alright if we don’t take the tests,” said Rohan Bhat, chairperson of the schools. “Many minority and international schools have decided not to take them.”
Bhat said the government hasn’t implemented the tests properly, defeating the purpose of the exercise. “The idea behind the tests was to raise the quality of education in schools. The government was supposed to organise training programmes and provide guidance to schools based on the test results but none of that has been done,” he said.
Others complained that the tests were not being conducted in a fair manner in all schools. “Since the government gives the question papers in advance, many schools hand them over to students days before the test so that they can prepare for it,” said Uday Nare, teacher, Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri.
Education officials said all schools will need to appear for the tests. “These tests are not optional. We are also going to send third party examiners randomly in schools to check how the tests are held,” said BB Chavan, deputy director of education, Mumbai region.