Maharashtra: Admissions based on Class 12 formula tricky, warn experts

Published on Jun 27, 2021 11:04 PM IST

The recent decision by several education boards to scrap Class 12 board exams due to the pandemic and mark students based on the previous year’s performance has invited mixed reactions from different stakeholders

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By, Mumbai

The recent decision by several education boards to scrap Class 12 board exams due to the pandemic and mark students based on the previous year’s performance has invited mixed reactions from different stakeholders. For many, this move to assess students and further admissions based on a formula to derive marks has brought back memories from a decade ago, when admissions to junior college admissions were rocked by formula-based rules for three consecutive years from 2008 to 2010, delaying the admissions process all three years.

“Though the education boards feel a similar formula will mean a level playing field for students from all boards, this is not true. Somehow, some students will be at a disadvantage. This year too, I fear a repeat of an admissions process with lots of confusion and ambiguity,” said a former official of the Maharashtra State Board for Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE).

Between 2008 and 2010, admissions to first-year junior college (FYJC) seats witnessed a series of new formula-based admissions which led to complaints and furore from several student groups. This was followed by a series of public interest litigations (PILs) filed by aggrieved parents and students, ultimately delaying the admissions process by a few months.

In 2008, the state government introduced a 70:30 formula which meant that colleges had to reserve 70% of their seats for local students and the remaining 30% for outsiders. This move was scrapped the same year after receiving flak from students and parents. In 2009, the state government put together a formula to base Class 10 marks of students on a percentile formula during admissions. This move too was scrapped after being quashed by the Apex court.

“Every year, the state government was coming up with admission rules that give an upper hand to state board students, under the pretext that other education boards give inflated marks to their students. We spent a good part of 2008 and 2009 just filing petitions in the Bombay high court and the Supreme Court in order to give justice to students from other boards,” said Sudhir Madhani, parent activist. Madhani was one of the many parents who dragged the state government to court every year in 2008, 2009 and 2010 against ‘unrealistic and unfair’ admission formulas.

This year, Covid pushed all education boards to rethink their decision of conducting board exams at a time when the country was grappling with a second wave. Scrapping of exams was unanimously accepted by all, but the decision of boards to now base Class 12 marks on a formula is not going down well with parents and students.

The approved mechanism for Class 12 students of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) includes a 30:30:40 formula, which takes into account a student’s performance in the last three examinations (the 12th pre-board, the 11th finals, and the 10th board) to settle at a score for the theory component of the examination that could not be held. The theory portion accounts for 70% or 80% of a subject score, with the remainder coming from internal practical tests that most schools managed to complete prior to the outbreak of the second wave of Covid-19.

In the case of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE), the formula will take into consideration the students’ Class 10 ICSE Board exam results, project and practical work in subjects, and best marks obtained in school exams in Class 11 and 12. While the Maharashtra state education board is yet to clarify their stand on how the Class 12 marks will be derived in the absence of the board exams this year, parents are already worried that formula-based marks will put state board students at a disadvantage.

“Unlike other education boards, the Maharashtra state board can be very strict in giving marks for internals as well as theory paper and this puts state board students at a disadvantage in comparison with other board students,” said Sudha Shenoy, parent and activist. She added that every year, state board students have lost out on seats in desirable colleges because, in comparison, their counterpart from another education board has scored better.

“Even with the new formula that other boards have introduced to derive Class 12 marks this year, our state board students will suffer because internals marks in other boards are higher compared to our schools and this will create a problem when marks will depend on such numbers/scores,” she added.

While CBSE and CISCE boards have clarified their stand on Class 12 marks, the Maharashtra state board is yet to bring clarity on this matter. “We have news from some states of parent groups challenging the CBSE evaluation formula, so announcing any decision before understanding the response of the stakeholders will be difficult,” said a state government official. He added that the government will release a decision on this subject soon.

Admission formulas

2008—The 70:30 admission formula

According to this formula, admissions to first-year junior college (FYJC) courses will be divided in a way that local students get more leverage on a college seat as compared to those who don’t belong to that city or state. This move was introduced by the state government to give an advantage to students from that particular city/district on college seats as compared to their fellow students from other cities/states.

The government, in a GR, had stated that FYJC colleges will reserve 70% of their seats to local students and the remaining 30% to outsiders. This invited uproar from students across Maharashtra and neighbouring states and after a long court battle, it was finally dropped by the state government and scrapped for good.

2009—The percentile formula

As per this formula put together by the Maharashtra state government, a student’s marks had to be calculated in comparison with the aggregate of the top ten scorers of that particular education board. The idea was to bring parity among first-year junior college (FYJC) aspirants from various education boards.


A—Aggregate percentage of marks received the 10 toppers of a particular board

M—Marks of the student whose percentile is to be calculated

This formula was challenged by parents of several ICSE and CBSE class 10 students in the Bombay high court, and a six-month-long battle ensued. The state government also took the matter to the Supreme Court only to be eventually quashed by the apex court

2010—Best-five policy

According to this formula introduced and implemented by the Maharashtra state government, where the five best scores out of six subjects in class 10 exams will be considered for the final percentage. In 2010, this formula was originally introduced for Maharashtra state board students only, and eventually, after a series of petitions, the same formula was extended to class 10 students from all education boards and is applicable during FYJC admissions to date.


    Shreya Bhandary is a Special Correspondent covering higher education for Hindustan Times, Mumbai. Her work revolves around finding loopholes in the current education system and highlighting the good and the bad in higher education institutes in and around Mumbai.

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