In an attempt to reduce errors in the practical assessments in the upcoming Class 10 and 12 Maharashtra state board exams, schools and colleges have been asked to use optical and intelligent character recognition (OMR/ICR) sheets.
The oral tests and practical components carry 20 marks for each subject in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and the Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams. They are conducted internally at the school or college level, and the marks are added to the final score.
Under the new system, examiners will have to mark on the OMR sheet in the prescribed format, instead of only writing them down. The sheets will be scanned and entered into the system, thus preventing manual errors during data-entry.
This step comes in the light of past incidents where students lost marks because wrong digits were entered into the system. The numbers were often misread because of unclear handwriting.
“We used to receive complaints from students that they had scored lower than expected in the exams. On verification, we found that sometimes, the internal marks were wrongly entered into our system,” said DG Jagtap, chairperson of the board’s Mumbai division, which includes Thane, Palghar and Raigad.
Mumbai division has the largest number of students appearing for the board exams. Of 17 to 18 lakh students taking the exam, close to four lakh are from the Mumbai division. The OMR/ICR sheets will, therefore, help in speedy evaluation, said Jagtap. “It will save plenty of time that goes into deciphering handwritten numbers,” he said.
But teachers said that the new system is complicated. “It requires highlighting the circles representing the number in units. All teachers might not know how to do it and it will increase the scope for mistakes,” said Anil Deshmukh, teacher, Sathaye College, Vile Parle, and head of the Maharashtra Junior College Teachers Association.