Saturday, 7 December 2013

Do we need all those Exams?

The list of exams that students need to go through today from grade eight to eleven is mind-boggling and this comes in times of such intense technological advancement.  The powers that be, justify abolishing a single written  board exam at the grade ten level in India suggesting that it had led to  an unhealthy amount of stress in students coupled with  unhealthy competition! What has happened in reality is that that single written board exam has now become replaced by a myriad of exams, assessments and tests throughout the year. As if this was not enough, students of grades eight to ten have now to undergo four cycles of  Formative assessments throughout the year where each cycle carries forty marks. You need to have a minimum of three tools or four tools in each cycle! Whew! And students need to prepare for ASSET, DA, PSA, ASL,…etc, the list  of assessments along with their acronyms and abbreviations are simply mind-boggling!
From the poor student’s point of view, the whole year passes in a blur, a whirligig of assessments, all with  some of the most creative acronyms that one has ever heard of in one’s life! Today many students are so confused with the very idea of assessments that the moment they get a written assignment, they get into a ‘freeze mode’. A large number of parents lament that in many cases the projects and work given in the form of F.A. (formative assessment) tools have to be done by the parents themselves (whether they are in form of models, or research done on the internet). I have seen mothers writing up essays and articles for their children because their children were doing other important tasks!
Looking at the quantum of work the poor students have to shoulder as an excuse for not attempting a board paper at the end of the academic session has lead parents to wonder if replacing the board exam at the end of the academic session was such a good idea after all! To make matters worse, students do not have  exam skills to answer a written assessment and they find it difficult to finish even an easy paper; their handwriting has gone bad,and they can’t calculate mathematical problems like their predecessors did. If the ability of the Written Board examinations at the grade tenth level was bad in terms of assessing knowledge, aptitude, and quantum of learning in students, then the present slew of assessments is even worse because they can only add to the confusion of the student attempting them.
What needs to be seen is whether replacing a single standardized written assessment at the end of the academic session with a battery of tests and assessments is really a good idea after all. We were doing quite well before the introduction of CCE and CCA, then why was there a need to remove the board exams at the grade ten level? If it was  the issue of stress in students that prompted this decision, then I dare say that existing stress levels (which exceed previous stress levels) should be  reason enough for reverting to the Board exams of yesteryear! I suppose a new leadership in the country will be able to see through the demerits of exposing students to an unnecessary battery of tests of all varieties and forms!

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