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Mumbai schools divided over state board decision to scrap 20-mark internal exams

Mumbai city news: While one half says its will prevent schools from manipulating marks, others suggest ways to prevent it.

mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2017 10:16 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,internal exams,Maharashtra education board
(HT Photo)

The city schools are divided over the Maharashtra education board’s decision to scrap internal exams — weighing 20 marks — for languages for Class 9 from this academic year (2017-18) and for Class 10 from the next year.

A circular issued by the board last week announced that students will have to write 100-mark papers for languages — English, Hindi, Marathi, and others. Earlier, these subjects were divided into a 80-mark written test held by the education board and a 20-mark internal exam that was conducted by the school.

Schools were marking students unfairly in the internal assessments, said educationists. The tests lacked benchmarks or criteria on the basis of which the marks were allotted and scores were inflated, they alleged.

According to experts, most schools would award the marks arbitrarily, as each student scored anywhere from 17 to 20 marks. Also, teachers were accused of giving better scores to their favourite students.

“Schools had started using internal marks as a disciplining tool,” said Mustafa Sakharwala, who runs a coaching class in Byculla. “Teachers threatened to cut marks in vivas if students didn’t behave in the class.”

Some principals are in favour of scrapping the marks and alleged that a few schools used it for their own gains. “Schools wanted to better their passing percentage. At times, even mediocre students are given full marks so that the school achieve 100% passing percentage,” said Eric Elavia, principal, Lady Engineer School, Tardeo.

Teachers said there was evidence that the internal test scores were arbitrary. “A child used to score 18 of 20 in internals, but barely managed to pass in written exams,” said Elavia. “Such discrepancies show that schools were not marking students on their merit.”

Read: SSC scraps 20-mark oral exams, Class 10 students will have to take 100-mark written exam from 2018-19

Instead of internal assessments, Elavia said the board should emphasise on continuous comprehensive evaluation (CCE) in which students are assessed throughout the year by formative and summative tests.

“It is going to be a challenge for both students and teachers, but is the need of the hour,” said Elavia.

However, a few experts said internal assessments in the form of oral and practical exams and assignments or projects was required to assess multiple intelligences in the classroom.

“Some students are better at expressing themselves through words rather than writing,” said Vinita Raja, principal, Sacred Heart School, Kalyan. “So it is unfair to asses all students only on the basis of written exams.”

Calling the board’s decision ‘hasty’, she said, “Although evaluation was not being properly done in some schools, scrapping the system entirely instead of rectifying it is wrong.”

Experts suggested other ways to weed out the problems in the internal assessments. One suggestion was to appoint external examiners to evaluate students, much like the science practicals in Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) exams.

“External evaluators are sent by the board to oversee practical exams for science held at the school level. The same can be extended for languages,” said Raj.