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RTI to tell why you flunked

A central information panel ruling could help students figure out how they were rated, writes Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2006 16:43 IST

You may not get your evaluated answer scripts under the right to information law but a central information commission ruling on Friday could help students figure out how they were rated.

The commission held that there was no problem in allowing the appellant to take a close look at the “answer key”.

“If there is an answer key, we don’t find any reason why a copy of the same shouldn’t be furnished to the appellant. Accordingly, we direct the CPIO (central public information officer) to furnish a copy of the answer key, if any, to the appellant,” information commissioners Padma Balasubramanian and MM Ansari said, acting on a complaint by a railway official who wanted to see his evaluated answer sheet and answer key.

An answer key is essentially a document given to evaluators, spelling out details of the marking scheme for their guidance. For example, in the case of a mathematics paper, it would specify the marks earned by a student for each step. This document ensures examinees are evaluated on an objective basis.

Answer keys have hitherto been treated with utmost confidentiality by public examination bodies. “We are given a copy of the marking scheme by the head examiner, which has to be returned at the end of the day,” said a Delhi schoolteacher drafted by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to evaluate answer scripts of Class XII students.

Making the answer key avail able could have a positive spinoff: students would know how they are expected to tackle questions. But examining bodies fear that it could also lead to a litany of complaints and court cases, especially with students moving court with complaints that they haven’t been marked in line with the official marking scheme or that there are imperfections in the scheme.

A CBSE official said they were yet to study the implications of the decision. “We would like to be more transparent and earn student confidence but given the number of students we handle (11 lakh a year), we have to weigh each decision and possibility across several parameters… We are yet to complete this exercise,” the official said.

First Published: Feb 12, 2006 16:43 IST