Grading System: Is This the Solution?

Tue, Sep 14, 2010

Social Issues

“But there are advantages to being elected President. The day after I was elected, I had my high school grades classified Top Secret.”—- Ronald Reagan

The CBSE is out with yet another educational reform. This time it is the turn of the age-old dreary 10th Standard Board Exams. From the academic year 2010-11 onwards, a new system of evaluation – Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) has been approved. In simple words, students will be assigned grades for each subject rather than marks scored out of a cent. Moreover, the grades are set on the basis of a classification of marks scored which will now be kept secret.

The verdict is clear – when grades are to be calculated on the marks itself, doesn’t it turn out to be a case of reinventing the wheel? This new grading system appears to be a makeshift solution, rather than being an effective tool to tackle the problem it was originally designed for – Exam related stress, or phobia.

Let me throw some light on what the metric exams mean to a kid – even before he/she appears for them, during the year when they are due to appear, and finally the consequences that have to be born throughout life.

The CBSE certification system is synonymous with adulthood in the Indian society – exams are akin to a deadly beast in an ancient Colosseum, where the student is a gladiator, expected to ward off the creature with a thousand eyes scrutinizing him/her. The fear of not being able to meet expectations looms large.

Almost every teenager born in middle class India is elaborately coached by his/her parents to be a reading machine. A fear of “THE BOARD EXAMS” either creeps in or is deliberately infused into the child by the guardians, whether they use measures like higher levels of “Inception”, simple moral policing, or feudal aged “gentle touches of the stick” for that matter. The metric exam-time is generally considered to be the most eerie time of one’s life. Will the grading system help a generation avoid the usual academic and mental pressure; the rote learning and the sacrifice of creativity? It surely doesn’t seem likely.

The authority in concern, the Central Board of Secondary Education claims that it will reduce cut-throat competition for marks that kills out the child in the test taker. My take on this – Earlier it was a battle to score more and more marks, reason being that low-scorers get taunts from parents, relatives and friends. But now, it will be an identical case, but with grades. Who doesn’t like getting good grades? The parents and in some cases the ward are used to treating marks in the order of 90+ as a trophy. Now it will be the grade A1. Sounds good too, “A-ONE”. Royal Air forces anyone?

The icing on the cake is that there will be no failures. The board has initiated these decisions keeping in view the growing pressure on students. This seems to be an effective step in the direction of reducing exam stress. However, look closely and you might differ. It reduces the sanctity of the exam. It does not reduce stress; it removes it altogether. Which student will care to study for an exam in which he/she can never fail? The exams have been a concrete method to distinguish between students that meet the certification criterion and the ones that do not. This may end up to be a major flaw in the system. The undeserving ones, who did not care to pay attention in class, let alone the self-study can sail through the annual test which is just a formality now. The hardworking ones, who toiled hard standard after standard, now find themselves with no takers or benchmarks to achieve throughout the academic year.

Educational reforms are imperative, considering that the current English schooling system was invented hundreds of years ago. The onus is on the CBSE and the NCERT to ensure that written exams get lesser weightage, while an effective mechanism is developed to evaluate all round performance of a child in his formative years.

Whether it turns out to be a feather in the cap, or a can of worms, only time can tell. My only expectation is that students should not get a raw deal. If there are hiccups, and there is a rollback, this will add to the confusion. More so, students who have been graded this way may feel like laboratory rats.

Lyf izz hard kids – God Be With You!

Author : Salil Gupta

MBA, IIT Kanpur

(Batch of 2009 – 2011)


One Response to “Grading System: Is This the Solution?”

  1. Kaufen Levitra Says:

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