In Retrospect

Nurturing change

CBSE has decided not to award overall division, distinction or aggregate in Class X, XII Board exams nor calculate or declare and inform percentage of marks in the 2024 exams — an initiative that many believe will bring down the level of stress in students and parents alike

Nurturing change

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided not to assign overall divisions, distinctions, or aggregates to students taking the Class X and Class XII exams this year.

Candidates with more than five subjects may have the best five subjects determined by admitting institutes or employers recruiting CBSE Board students.

In a notice on its website, the CBSE said it is receiving requests from various persons to intimate the criteria to calculate the percentage of the students in the Board’s exams. However, sub-section 40.1 (iii) of Chapter – 7 of the examination bylaws states that “No overall division/distinction/aggregate shall be awarded.”

Accordingly, it clarified that the Board does not calculate/declare/inform the percentage of marks. “If the percentage of marks is required for higher education or in employment the calculation, if any, may be done by the admitting institution or employer,” it stated.

The decision came in the wake of numerous requests seeking clarification on the criteria for calculating the percentage of students in the class X and XII examinations. “The CBSE is receiving requests from concerned parents on the criteria for calculating the percentage of the students in the Board examination. It is informed that no overall division/distinction/aggregate shall be awarded from the coming exams,” stated a notification from the Board. According to the new process, a candidate’s percentage will be calculated based on the overall performance. The best of five (subjects) will determine their scores, which will be considered during admission to the next class. This will be calculated by the candidate, as CBSE will not mention the distinction on the report card.

Earlier, the CBSE had also done away with the practice of issuing merit lists to avoid unhealthy competition.

In August last year, the Ministry of Education announced the New Curriculum Framework (NCF). According to this, Board examinations will be held twice a year to ensure that students have enough time and opportunity to perform well and get an option to retain the best score. The option has been introduced to reduce stress caused by the fear of a single opportunity.

Education minister Dharmendra Pradhan said he has received positive feedback from students on the plan to conduct Board exams twice a year.

“I met students after the New Curriculum Framework (NCF) was announced. They have appreciated this and are happy with the idea,” he was quoted as saying.

“The students will have the option of appearing for the (Class X and XII Board) exams twice a year just like the engineering entrance exam JEE. They can choose the best score... but it will be completely optional, no compulsion,” he was quoted as saying.

The Union minister also added: “The students often get stressed thinking they lost a year, their chance is gone or could have performed better... the option is being introduced to reduce the stress caused by the fear of single opportunity.”

He further added: “If any student feels that he is completely prepared and is satisfied with the score in the first set of exams, he can choose not to appear for the next exams. Nothing will be mandatory.”

Along with this, candidates will also be given options of flexibility in subject selections which will not be stream-bound. Students will also have to study two languages, one of which must be an Indian language.

Pradhan is also said to have emphasised that the matter of “dummy schools” should not be overlooked, stressing the need for a substantial discussion on the matter.

The Board had earlier notified the discontinuation of the answer book containing printed tables for the Accountancy subject, beginning this year, which will, in turn, bring the accountancy answer sheets in alignment with the format used for all other subjects.

The CBSE has announced special provisions for students who will be participating in sports events or international Olympiads during the Board exam period. The Board stated that it will conduct special exams on a later date for students of class X or XII students who have a conflicting schedule with the final written exams. However, students must note that they will not get a separate opportunity to appear for their compartment or practical exams under this arrangement.

Since March 2018, the Board has been providing a special opportunity to such students by conducting special examination(s) at a later date(s) for those taking part in national or international sporting events and whose CBSE Board’s examinations clash with such dates, including dates of the journey for the events recognised by Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI).

Since March 2020, the CBSE has also been providing a special opportunity to students by conducting special examination(s) at a later date(s) for those who are participating in International Olympiads and whose CBSE Board’s examinations clash with their dates of International Olympiad, including dates of the journey for the Olympiad recognised by Appropriate Authority in India viz. Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE).

The CBSE continues to provide the facility of special exams for students who are participating in national or international sporting events and for students who are participating in International Olympiads and whose CBSE Board’s examinations clash with their dates of participation, including dates of the journey for the events for the Board exams this year.

CBSE and ICSE (Indian Certificate of Secondary Education) are the two main English-medium Boards in India, having a distinguished history and are also known for their rigorous academic standards, catering to different educational needs and philosophies.

The CBSE Board is older and more widespread across India. It is known for a certain style of teaching and examining students while the ICSE has its unique approach.

The CBSE Board has introduced several state-of-the-art practices to keep up with the changing times; introducing initiatives that make children happy and help them become ardent learners.

It is the only Board to have initiated Artificial Intelligence (AI), viewing it as a significant accelerator of the future of global digital growth considering its importance, opportunity and potential. In order to make India’s next generation “AI ready,” CBSE introduced Artificial Intelligence as an optional sixth subject in Class IX way back in 2019–2020.

With systems continuously monitoring its assessment and evaluation systems, the Board regularly introduces required changes.

As a part of this, internal assessments have been introduced in all subjects other than those having practicals. Strengthening of assessment and evaluation practices of the Board have been modified to encourage conceptual understanding instead of rote learning to the extent that creative, correct, and relevant answers given by students other than the ones mentioned in the marking scheme are preferred for evaluation now.

Covid-19 has had a huge impact causing significant disturbance in the Board exams schedule, apart from the disruptions in the teaching and learning process in schools.

A year after most schools resumed in the country, there was a lot of confusion regarding remote classes, limited access to resources, syllabus completion and marking in Board exams.

The sudden shift to online classes and the absence of face-to-face interaction with teachers have posed obstacles in terms of clarifying doubts and receiving timely feedback. Additionally, the uncertainty surrounding exam schedules and the pressure to cover a condensed syllabus have heightened stress levels among students.

Productive alterations by the Boards help students negotiate learning losses and uplift academic achievements, especially in the post-pandemic era.

It’s kind of an added advantage if someone somewhere is thinking about the positive impacts on learning, organising staff development and support, and preparing new guidelines when needed. After all, different but equally demanding dynamism needs to be in place for qualifications based on today’s time and age or rather is the need of the hour.

Views expressed are personal

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