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Reform school examinations

According to news reports, the average score of a student from the Maharashtra State Board of Education who appeared for JEE (Main) went up by over 5 percentage points from 2014 to 2015. In West Bengal, it went up from 65 percent in 2013 and 2014 to 73 percent in 2015. 

Similarly, the average board percentage of those from Maharashtra who were among the one lakh shortlisted for JEE (Advanced), went up from 86 percent to 89 percent in the same period. In Bengal, the corresponding figure rose from 86-87 percent to 90 percent.

Maharashtra and West Bengal are not isolated cases, said the report, which added that an analysis done by a committee on the class XII board scores of students who appeared for JEE (Main) and JEE (Advanced) over the last three years (2013, 2014, and 2015) shows a rising graph across state and national boards that has begun to worry academics.

 Average scores of students from the national boards such as the CBSE and the Council for Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) also went up by 2-3percent in the three years. Maharashtra, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab, and West Bengal, are some of the states that have seen a significant jump in the average score.

A weightage being given to the board examination scores in the IIT-JEE examinations may have been one of the reasons for the boards doing liberal marking and with this system being discontinued this year, it’s unlikely that malpractices in the board examinations, both Central and the state, would end. There are several other factors which have caused a spiral in the marks being scored by the examinees in the board examinations. And it’s not going to be easy to reverse the trend.

The committee appointed by the centre to draft the National education Policy has suggested “on-demand board exams” for candidates, a two-part system of exams for Class X and a national-level test after Class XII, similar to the SAT in the US. The panel has said that online board exams that can be taken when the candidate is ready. 

The committee is of the opinion that the national-level test should be open to all who have passed Class XII, from whichever board, and their score in this common test should decide their entry into various colleges and universities.

Today the examination boards do not function on the principle of parity. Despite the high percentage of marks being scored by the candidates a sense of dissatisfaction still exists. In addition there is the case of huge trust deficit vis-à-vis the examination boards given the reports from Bihar, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. The rot is not limited to just these states.

 Under the circumstances, the government should actively consider bringing in the concept of common examination and that too on demand. It would end the problem of stress and strain both among the students and also examination boards.
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