What? CBSE Class 10 board exams are back?! But why?
The board exams will be reintroduced from 2018, which means CBSE students will be taking board exams along with students from ICSE and other state boards, who never scrapped them in the first place.education Updated: Dec 21, 2016 17:42 IST
There’s one topic which is brewing in the minds of every middle school CBSE students. The board exams will be reintroduced from 2018, which means CBSE students will be taking board exams along with students from ICSE and other state boards, who never scrapped them in the first place.
So students, before you reach for that bar of chocolate and your parents reach for their anxiety tablets, let’s look at this with a calm frame of mind. For this, we should examine some “what’s and whys” so that we can decide whether this is a good thing after all – or not.
Why were they scrapped in the first place?
Under pressure! As David Bowie knew well, pressure was definitely pushing down on students in standard nine and 10. The boards had become a public performance that many children were not ready to take. The intention to replace this with the CCE (continuous and comprehensive evaluation) was indeed a welcome idea. Rather than a one-day performance snapshot, students were judged consistently and more importantly, on other parameters as well, which went beyond exam-taking skills. Given the high school dropout rate at the time of abolition (2010), this made it possible for many bright students to stay in the system and access other opportunities beyond class 10.
What happened differently after that?
Definitely less exam pressure, but the CCE did not work out as well as it was envisaged to be. A radical move needs to be backed up with solid implementation for the whole vision to come into play. The CCE guidelines were not perfect to begin with, but held promise for improvement. However, when that did not happen, all stakeholders were back under pressure, albeit a different kind dominated by too many changes and no clear vision of handling the transition. The CBSE has not been able to develop a satisfactory alternative in the past six years and clearly it now time to rethink.
According to the HRD ministry, its interactions with delegations of schools and parents have reported a drop in ‘quality’ of students’ academic standards. Even according to surveys conducted by the CBSE itself, a majority of students and their parents and an overwhelming majority of school heads were of the opinion, that class 10 end exams should be conducted by an independent authority.
This could be because schools are at the risk of suspicions of subjectivity in internal results and the no-detention policy allows students that would otherwise need reassessment and help, to go forward to the next standard. This may also be a reason for larger drop outs after class 12.
Why do we need it back?
As of 2016, the CBSE has under its wings, over 18,000 schools, including 210 schools in 25 other countries. Given the volume of students, there are many situations that arise in the lives of these students which the scrapping should have accounted for, but in reality did not.
Changing schools was one huge issue. Families moving within the country and abroad were constrained. They either had to scout for another CBSE school for their child or their children had to opt for giving the boards on an individual basis. Theoretically, this was a solution, which was not practical in any manner.
How would everyone know in advance? What if the student wanted to shift to ISC or IB board after giving the class 10 boards because they wanted a different combination of subjects? What if a student wanted to pursue a vocational course after class 10?
To predict the occurrence of these situations by mid-class 10 would need special divination skills, especially since no other board has followed suit and continues to hold board exams at end of class 10.
Parents and teachers also contend that class 10 exams are to be viewed as a run-up to class 12, where there are board exams in any case. While there is clear consensus on abandoning evaluation systems that encourage rote learning, a more structured approach would allow students to start thinking clearly and objectively about subjects they would wish to take forward in senior school and make eventual career choices.
The error is in forgetting that this is the purpose of a class 10 evaluation, which is an aid for students, a first step in the career journey and not a public proclamation of academic success or failure. We must remember that students take seven to nine papers in a whole range of compulsory subjects in class 10 versus five subjects that students choose to study in class 12. The sheer variety is something we need to respect and factor into our expectations from the students and their results.
What is the changed structure?
The board exams will be held as before. However, there will be an amendment in the no-detention policy, which at present, applies to students up to class 10. This is likely to now apply only till class 5 and in classes 6 and 7, the respective states are to decide on criteria for promotion, retests, etc. and beyond class 9, students may be held back if their performance is not up to the new criteria.
Till we don’t have an alternative to our evaluation systems, taking exams is a reality students need to make peace with, whether they are in class 10, 12 or beyond.
(Kapur is the head of counselling and content at Inomi, a self-discovery based career and college guidance company. Views expressed here are personal.)