Ankita Pasad scored 550 out of 550 marks in her SSC exams this year. The perfect score was thanks to the board’s policy of giving state and national level athletes such as her, 25 extra marks.
The board first awarded students the additional 25 marks for sporting excellence in 2008. This year, many like Pasad, a state-level fencer, have gotten astronomical scores by benefiting from a combination of sports marks and the board’s latest policy: the Best-Five scheme.
But these aren’t the only factors aiding SSC students. In the past few years the board has introduced several changes such as internal assessment in every subject and the option of taking lower level mathematics.
In 2000, students from non-Marathi medium schools were first introduced to English from Class 1, rather than from Class 5, as had been the practice earlier. The first batch of these students appeared for the SSC exams this year.
Also, this year students for the first time appeared for a board exam in general mathematics, which had a lower level of difficulty. This was introduced from Class 9 two years ago.
“Maths failures used to be very high earlier,” said Basanti Roy, former secretary of the board’s Mumbai division. Roy was involved in introducing the change. “We first considered letting students drop maths but after consultation we decided to bring in the easier option instead.”
The pass percentage of the Mumbai region division speaks for itself. In 2007, the division had a pass percentage of 75.02 per cent. This year, it was 81.1 per cent, probably a reflection of the changes brought in over the past two years.
Students are pleased. “The internal assessment marks are practically in your hand,” said Sagar Shah, who just passed the SSC with 91 per cent. “It reduces the burden on doing well in the final exam.”
Such measures are not just boosting pass percentages but also helping students post competitive totals against students from other boards. “By making it easier for SSC students, it’s giving us an advantage against ICSE students,” said Palak Thadeshwar, an SSC student.
“Reforms are remedial measures the board takes as and when problems come up,” said Roy.