New Delhi: The country's largest school board is looking into a suggestion to make Class X board exams compulsory again, four years after CBSE students were given the choice of opting for a system of continuous and comprehensive assessment.
Several CBSE governing body members told this newspaper the matter came up at a meeting last week and that many of the members argued for bringing back the pre-2011 system of compulsory board exams because of a public perception that students were being assessed too liberally.
The spotlight on the CBSE's continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system comes at a time most state governments have called for scrapping another education-related change - the policy of no detention till Class VIII.
Sources said K.P. Gopalkrishna, a governing body member, was the first to voice his misgivings about the system of continuous evaluation at last week's meeting, claiming that students of Classes IX and X were not serious about their studies since they didn't have to appear for a board exam. He urged the 42-member body to take a decision at the earliest.
At least three members told The Telegraphthe issue was discussed although it was not part of the agenda.
One member said many felt board exams should be made compulsory again from 2017. "For that the board has to take a decision by March next year," the member added.
Y.S.K. Seshu Kumar, a joint secretary in the human resource development ministry who holds additional charge as CBSE chairman, told the meeting the issue would be looked into.
Before the school-based internal assessment was introduced, every CBSE student had to appear for the Class X board exam. Now, under the CCE system, schools conduct four "formative" and two "summative" assessments in an academic year.
The formative assessment - which carries 40 per cent marks and is also applicable to students who opt to sit for the board exam - includes co-scholastic evaluations though tests and assignments, such as quizzes, debates and projects.
The summative assessment, which carries 60 per cent marks, involves written tests on the subjects taught. The school prepares the question papers, evaluates the answer papers and sends the marks to the board.
Ameeta Mullah Wattal, principal of Springdales School and a governing body member, spoke of a trust deficit between the public and schools since the CCE was introduced.
"The public feels that a student would get a better deal if assessed by an outside agency, the board. My submission is that an aggressive (board) exam for 14-16-year-olds is not in the interest of a child's development and learning," Wattal said, clearly the minority voice at the meeting when she presented this argument.
If board exams are made compulsory again, the school-based formative assessment must continue with 40 per cent weightage, she said.
D.R. Saini, the principal of DPS, RK Puram, called for a middle path. "I think the board needs to assess 50 per cent of the course content while schools should assess a student on half the course in Class X. The board can issue the mark sheet combining both the scores," he said.
If a school awards liberal marks, a student who has not been serious will not be able to perform at the same level in the board exam. There will be a visible difference, Saini said. That would be a deterrent for schools to award high marks.
CBSE sources said any decision was unlikely till the HRD ministry finalises the National Education Policy, now under preparation.
On the no-detention policy till Class VIII, many state governments have called for revoking the system and bringing back performance-based promotions that the Right To Education Act had done away with five years ago.
Earlier this month, the Delhi government had passed a bill to amend the act to scrap the existing system.
Since education is on the concurrent list, a state government can amend a central law, but the changes can be enforced only after approval from either the governor or the President.
Government sources said a decision on whether to amend the RTE Act in Parliament would be taken after the new education policy is framed by early 2016.