NIOS Assessment Scheme comes under SC lens
The novel method adopted by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) to assess students based on performance of others students in the past three public examinations caught the attention of the Supreme Court which agreed to scrutinize the newly introduced scheme on Friday. NIOS issued the assessment scheme on July 10 after remaining exams for Class 10 and 12 scheduled to commence from July 17 were scrapped in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Can you award marks based on other students’ assessment,” stated advocate Rishi Malhotra before a 3-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar while inviting the Court’s attention to Clause 5(c) of the Assessment Scheme released by NIOS. Malhotra appeared for a parent from Chennai whose son had given two exams (Mathematics, Data Entry Operation) in October 2019 and had registered for the remaining three subjects (English, Accountancy, Science & Technology) to be held in March/April this year.
The clause 5(c) said, “For all learners who have past performance (i.e. passed) in 1 or 2 subjects, their theory performance will be calculated based on the average performance in theory of last three Public examinations in those subject for which the learner was registered to appear in the examination which could not be held in March/April 2020.”
Explaining this scheme to the Court, Malhotra said, “To put it simply, the respondent Board will award marks to the present student by taking an average of the last 3 public examinations of the same cancelled subject which have been performed by other students. This was never in contemplation of the Court when it allowed NIOS to go ahead with the assessment scheme.”
The scheme in its entirety was not challenged as students who had appeared/taken three or four examinations were to be assessed based on the best three/two performed examinations.
The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sanjiv Khanna, asked Malhotra, “How many students are affected by this scheme.” Malhotra was appearing for only one student. This student had top scored with 97 and 93 marks in the two examinations taken last year.
The petition stated, “For a student like in the instant case who has been almost a topper in each subjects securing more than 95% marks to be now told that he/she would be awarded marks on the basis of performance of other students in past examinations would be nothing but causing distress, anxiety and for sure lesser marks.”
The bench agreed to examine this aspect and directed the petition to be served on the NIOS through its counsel present in Supreme Court. The matter has been kept for hearing on Friday. The petitioner prayed to the Court to either award him marks based on his performance in the past two performed subjects. In the alternate, the student’s mother demanded that similar to CBSE scheme, the theory papers that got cancelled should be assessed based on performance in internal/practical/project assessment.