100% marks! Is it time to revamp the system?

Class XII and X results are out. This year too, students have scored cent per cent marks. But this madness of marks, with students scoring 100% even in subjects like literature, is getting educators worried, and thus questioning the evaluation process employed by the boards. Experts believe that this trend of ‘perfect score’ discriminate against students who are creative and lack the aptitude for memorising. It is all about numbers now, they feel. Former NCERT director Krishna Kumar describes this trend to The Times of India, as the “victory of the crammers.” He says, “The problem is with the way questions are set and the model answers developed for it. These model answers are such where students can completely reproduce the answers to get full marks. The slightly original and creative ones lose in the process.”

While it is evident that the current evaluation process is shifting focus on rote learning and numbers, the question is what should one do to fix this system?

“Unless we get rid of the board exams, it’s going to be 12 years of preparation for the exam. That’s what ultimately matters if life is decided by what percentage we get in the board exam. If that’s the parameter by which we are going to judge our students, then that’s what our system will produce. So unless we change that, we can’t really change the system,” said educationist Dr Parth J. Shah, adding, “At the fundamental level, we really have to revamp the system.” Dr Shah is a founder of one of India’s prominent educational think tanks, Centre for Civil Society (CCS). He is also a director of Indian School of Public Policy.

READ: Dr Parth J. Shah full interview here

But how can we get rid of board exams when marks determine the future of children? For example, their class XII result determines the colleges that they can get admission into. Similarly, based on class X results, students get to choose the subjects/stream in class XI-XII.

“The question is how do other countries do it? There are very few countries in the world that have a board exam. Countries have aptitude tests like SAT. So, you finish your class XII, take these tests, and present the test scores before the college admission committee, along with a bio about various other things that you have done in these 12 years of life. The college then decides whether you qualify for it or not. But in India, in order to make life easy for the college admission committee, we have decided to have board exams. Based on the marks scored in exams, the college comes up with cut-offs. Why should we make life easy for the college admission committee while it becomes difficult for everyone else? Life of a college admission officer is always very difficult everywhere in the world where a good education system exists. That’s because they have to judge many things, not just one exam score, and then decide whether a student is worthy of admission or not. There is no justification for having board exams,” said Dr Shah.

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