Thursday, 6 March 2014

Five years of CCE-A Retrospective

It has been five years since the introduction of CCE in 1999 by the then Education Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibal. A lot has changed since then, including the fact that now my own children have already become veterans of the CCE, having come across it from grades eight to ten. What astonishes me as a parent, is the range of tools and activities that can be organized as tools for evaluation of students under the heading of Formative tools! The sheer confidence of students about passing on to higher grades, and the lack of any apparent stress in them stands testimony to the great success that CCE has had in reducing stress in students-but then, perhaps heaping the same on to the shoulders of the teachers who have become more of jugglers, conjuring new tools of assessment like  magicians producing rabbits out of their hats!
A leading article appearing in the Times of India on the sixth of February, 20l4, page 7 (NCR City Edition) is headed, “CCE has improved Scored, not teaching”. The title is self explanatory in itself and it suggests that the  so called scores might have been boosted, although they don’t indicate superior pedagogy or even a superior curriculum! While inflation of marks might be resorted to a rare one or two schools, the fact remains that it is so easy to score in any of the formative tests. In many cases where group work is entailed, the group might be assessed on the basis of a collective group performance, and I have noted to my distress that in many group activities, it is the smartest student who does all the work while the more lazy students just sit and watch! The same might be said of the numerous projects and assignments given to students as part of the Formative Assessment, where Science projects can be bought ready made from the market for a price and  student of languages can download materials from the internet, thanks to the copy-paste syndrome while plagiarism goes for a toss!
When students reach grade twelve and they have to face the written board exams for the first time, it becomes a frenzied rush for them to develop essential exam skills that they had allowed to go to grass, thanks to the numerous activities they did as formatives and thus lost the ability to translate their thoughts and ideas into the written form! Today, in the age of the CCE, it is not surprising for most students to score very high marks by the end of the session when the CBSE processes the result by adding the formative score to the summative score, i.e. 40% + 60% = 100%. Some of the reasons why students might score absurdly high marks in their formatives is that many of the Formative assessments are not assessed with the help of a rubric. In many cases, teachers are themselves confused about the purpose and what the activity purports to assess! Wouldn’t however blame the teachers for this laxity in giving marks for the basic reason that, firstly, they are overworked and puzzled by the number of tools they have to prepare ahead of time, secondly, they have gone through a traditional system of education and it takes time to flush out past habits and experiences, thirdly, there doesn’t seem to be much clarity even today, that is five years since the introduction of CCE about the manner of conducting Formative Assessments, fourthly, CCE works successfully when you have adequate resources and computer savvy teachers, (imagine conducted Formative assessments in a Village school which doesn’t have enough computers or where teachers don’t know how to operate a computer!) and  fifthly, there is a total lack of consensus among teachers about the tools they should use. This lack of clarity, and vagueness of policy by the Board overseeing the CCE structure has made the very process of assessment rather effete and obsolete at the very outset.
It is high time we thought beyond CCE, which has unfortunately not more out of the box learning in students than the previous paper and pen exams. I don’t see very much of creative thinking or experiential learning taking place in my children or even students, aside from the fact that I find them busy making charts, and running to the shop at the corner that makes ready-made models and dioramas! Looking at the amount of rather pointless effort spent in preparing print outs based on plagiarism and regular visits to the market to purchase charts has benefited anyone really much! The article appearing in the Times of India Newspaper states that, “Tasks given to students in 54.6% of the schools are of average quality and the difficulty level is also average or below average in 86% if schools”.  Perhaps better implementation of policies, standardization of processes, constant monitoring of processes by the Board, might prepare us for a better version of CCE termed CCE-2 could be expected in the near future. Statistics apparently suggest that 60 % of the parents and 90 % of teachers are happy with the new scheme of assessments according to the Daily. What remains to be seen is whether the reforms, policies and assessment strategies are being followed with sincerity and honesty and that marks are not being simply given for mediocre work or just because it has become a tedious activity!
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  1. Very nice analysis and it is very true most of the schools do not worry much on what CCE is all about. They use the steering wheel of FA and SA.
    Done. Exams completes. Parents get advice. The year ends. But cut and paste continues comprehensively endiing the thought processes in children and also in their teachers.

    1. Thanks Nagaraja for your comment, it is highly appreciated!