The plan by the CBSE to split the class 10 and 12 board exams into two terms has been hailed by school principals and education experts who believe the decision taken in view of the COVID-19 pandemic may become the foundation of similar examination reforms in the future. Bifurcating the academic session, holding two term-end exams and rationalising the syllabus are part of the special assessment scheme for class 10 and 12 board examinations in 2021-22 announced by the CBSE.
"Critics may argue about the lack of seriousness students display in internal tests and assignments or how reflective are internal assessments of a student's capability? However, given the circumstances, this is the best option and will go a long way in ensuring that students study throughout the year. If this formula is a success, the board could implement it when life returns to normal," said Madhav Deo Saraswat, Principal, The Scindia School.
Sangeeta Hajela, Principal, DPS Indirapuram said this is going to be a first ever "flexible" management of board exams which will usher a new era of examination reforms in the country.
"A well-thought-out move, it has provided for the unpredictability of the ‘waves’ and the last minute cancellation of examinations, changes and hurried decision-making. It is a complete plan, mapping what would be done in various situations arising out of conditions prevalent at that time, hitherto unforeseen," she said.
"The plan will surely encourage children to study throughout the year and not leave serious study for the final examinations. The digital profile maintenance of each child, though challenging at the grass root level, is also a more holistic tool of evaluation.
This first ever flexible management of examinations is surely a welcome move amongst the academic community. We are optimistic this will usher in a new era of examination-reforms in our country and open another door for all times to come," she said.
Pallavi Upadhyaya, Principal, DPS RNE Ghaziabad believes the new assessment policy has addressed all permutations and combinations of situations and has shown the schools the best way to conduct the assessments in a fair manner whatever the prevailing conditions be.
She, however, is apprehensive about the competency based question papers and said the rationalised syllabus should be shared immediately so that teachers do not waste their time teaching deleted portions.
"The conduct of two board exams with 50 percent of the reduced syllabus is quite brilliant and will definitely ensure a more reliable result.This being said, what concerns me most is the so-called competency based question paper. The competency based questions we have come across in some subjects had questions that had parallels drawn to it. Most of these questions are confusing even for children studying in urban areas and one can imagine how a child from a rural area would fare.
"Their answers would be based on pure guess work. So what competency is being tested here? I feel that pandemic is not the time to conduct such experiments on them. Many of these students are traumatised due to the death of their close relatives and also due to their own weak constitution.
They have become quite listless and inattentive in the virtual classroom as they are no longer able to do any vigorous physical activities or sports," she said.
As per the new scheme, the term one exams will be conducted by the Board in November-December, 2021 while the second term exams will be conducted in March-April, 2022
Anshu Mittal, Principal, MRG School, Rohini said the new plan is completely fair to the students who study with focus consistently throughout the year.
"Introducing the semester system is a beautiful thought. However, mapping the inter-connectivity of concepts and topics now in the mid-session of classes X and XII where almost half of the syllabus has been already covered by teachers is worrisome. The syllabus for the assessment scheduled to be in the month of November and December, should have been shared with the schools in time," she said.
Shruti Sridhar, a teacher at Nirmal Bhatia School, said the new scheme will shift the focus on a more application based learning process and encourage students to put consistent efforts throughout the year.
Vishnu Karthik, Director, The Heritage Group of Schools, said some elements of this marking scheme can be extended in post Covid years as some of them are based on sound international assessment practices.
"For students, there are still some uncertainties and ambiguities. The only antidote is to be consistent with effort and prepare for any scenario and not prepare for exams last minute," he said.
Shishir Jaipuria, Chairman, Seth Anandram Jaipuria Group of Educational Institution said tough lessons have clearly been learnt from the Covid pandemic and this decision to split board exams in two terms will prepare all stakeholders – schools, students, teachers and even the Board – better for any uncertain adverse events in the future.
"Looking beyond these exceptional situations, the move will help schools to collate assessment data biannually. This two-term assessment involving both objective and subjective questions will also prepare schools for the semester system in due course, as envisaged in the National Education Policy 2020," he said.