Is the new school evaluation system adding to stress?

By Ranjana Narayan, IANS,

New Delhi : Is the government’s new move to make education more meaningful and less academics-oriented adding to the burden of the already stressed child? Most students feel so, but there are also supporters who say “just give it some time”.

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CCE, or Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation as the new system is called, is a pet hate word of Apoorva Ghosh. A Class 9 student of a leading public school, Apoorva hates CCE for the “shackles” it has put around him – daily studies, endless projects, surprise tests and, what is worse according to him, he can’t talk and joke loudly with friends any more.

“CCE, CCE…I detest this new method,” mutters Apoorva, a fun-loving boy, as he toils through daily studies and hurries to finish a pending Hindi project. He has just handed over a mathematics project, and “has no time to breathe” as he has to finish the Hindi project.

“What is worse, now teachers openly warn us, ‘If we see you with your shirt outside your trouser we will give you low grades’, or ‘If you shout or speak loudly, we will reduce your grades’,” recounts the 14-year-old.

His mother Madhumita told IANS: “The new method has pushed my child into sitting for hours and studying or finishing projects every day. He is quite a laidback student, but now I find him scrambling to finish his work, he doesn’t want low CCE grades. The pressure is certainly there on the child to perform.”

Launched by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal last year in a move to do away with purely academics-based studies and the Class 10 board examinations of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), the CCE also aims to include the child’s talents as in singing, theatre, debating and art as part of the assessment.

It does away with the marking system, replacing it with grades. Like – A1 for 91-100 marks, A2 for 81-90, B1- for 71-80, and so on till D – 33-40 marks – and finally E2 – 0-20 marks.

However, this has had a welcome fallout for Rishabh Krishnan, a Class 10 student of Apeejay School, Noida. His delighted mother Jayanti told IANS: “The CCE has some good effects too. My son is an average student, but since the CCE takes other factors into consideration, he has got A2s in his report card, which feels so great.”

On the flip side, there are the bright children who are unhappy with the grading system. “Now there is no difference between a student who gets 100 and 91, both get an A1. What’s the use of killing ourselves studying to become top scorers?” wonders Sangeeta Chibber, a Class 9 student of a public school who has always been topping her class till now.

Under CCE, each term will have two Formative Assessments, which includes grading on the projects, the surprise tests, behaviour of the child, extra-curricular activities and the school unit test – based on 50 marks, and a Summative Assessment or a term examination – based on 50 marks.

While the schools have implemented the CBSE scheme and the teachers and students are grappling with the new method, most parents are at sea.

“My daughter now speaks in abbreviations like, ‘Our FA-1 begins next week and after that we will have FA-2, and the SA will be in September’. When I asked her what it means, she got impatient and said I should be knowing it!” said Joyita Mathur, the mother of a Class 9 girl.

For teachers, the CCE means devising new methods of drawing the child’s talents out and thinking of interesting projects.

“It has just kicked off, but in the long run it is good for the child because now the child is graded for extra-curricular activities. So even if the child is poor in academics but good in sports or singing, that will fetch the child good grades. Academics is not everything under the new system,” said a teacher at a public school declining to be named.

An enthusiastic votary of the new system is Usha Subramaniam, a parent. “Initially, such things take time to settle down and there is resentment, but just wait and watch, it will do wonders for the education system.”

(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at [email protected])