CBSE has changed! What about BSEM?

Premjit Laishangba *

'Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!' Many students might be running around like Archimedes- Eureka! Eureka! Eureka! This may give a relief to all the CBSE students.

But what about the other students? Will other boards also take up new steps like CBSE? We need to pursue some patience to see their actions.

The recent announcement made by the central Government from the ministry of Human Resource Development for the introduction of the new grading system in all the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, and the making of the Class X board exams optional from the coming academic year (2010-2011), has mused all the other state boards in India.

It is also supported by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) and this step opens a new chapter in the education system of India. Under this resolution a new system of evaluation called Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) has been generated to start from the current ongoing academic year.

CCE is defined as under:

Summative Assessment: Based on the term-end examination
1) There will be two evaluations each in the first and second terms.
2) Each evaluation will carry 10 marks apiece.

Formative Assessment: To evaluate and grade class work, homework, assignment and project work
1) There will be one term-end exam for each term.
2) The first term-end exam will carry 20 marks.
3) The second term-end exam will carry 40 marks.

The new evaluation has 9-point grading system which will be used for evaluating class IX and X. The 9-Point grading system is defined as hereunder:

  • A1 95 and above
  • A2 90 to 94
  • A3 85 to 89
  • B1 80 to 84
  • B2 70 to 79
  • C1 60 to 69
  • C2 50 to 59
  • C3 33 to 49
  • D Less than 33
It is unfortunate to know that many good students are not able to apply for admission because they do not cross the cut-off mark. They are not eligible to apply because of a mere 1 mark or 2 marks or 1% or 2 % of their gross total mark.

Therefore, the new system will be a gift to them. Students will somehow get a tremendous benefit from this grading system in terms of enrolling for admission to other premium institution and to pave the ladder of their career goal. As each grading point represents a range of marks within a window of 5 to 10 marks, it will increase the number of applications for admission from the coming academic years.

Let's take an instance; if the cut-off is 75% mark, any student who gets less than this mark will not be eligible to apply. Whereas under the new grading system, a student who is getting B2 (70% to 79%) will be eligible, which implies that students who actually gets 70% to 74% as in the old evaluation system would be eligible now because a student who score 70% to 74% will also get B2.

Fair enough!!! This will give an inevitable opportunity to the students. On the other hand, educational institutions will have an easier assessment technique of choosing the right candidates and students for them. This is because most of the institutions are not looking for students who score well only in the exam but also students with other skills that will help them to build up a robust asset for their institutions.

In this case, an average student who involved in extra-curricular activities is more preferable than to any other students with high score. So, with the introduction of the new grading system, institutions will receive more applicants, and as a result they will have the right choice.

Finally, choosing 1 from 100 applicants is always better than choosing 1 from 50. The other concern with the new system is the making of class X board exam optional. It has a big benefit- the cost of exam. It will reduce massively the cost of conducting a common board exam.

However, there is still a question- Will this impact the quality of education? We need to wait and see the execution of this new system in the near future. Now, let's come to our Board of Secondary Education Manipur (BSEM), our only board which handles the governance of all the higher schools of Manipur, and foresee what the board does amidst the hype of the CBSE new system publishing all around the country.

It is high time for the board to review the historical prospect and formulate a new scheme that will benefit the students. We need to keep in our mind that every year the pass-percentage of the class X board exam is very low and it is hectic to hear the result.

Besides, the percentage of marks score by students is also low comparing to other central boards like ICSE and CBSE. Score card plays a vital role in a student's career. Good or bad; scoring a good mark in exam is always a plus point. This is because their final score is the benchmark for their ability and the consequences of their one-year long study pattern.

Taking all the drawbacks and disadvantages as privileges, BSEM should take up certain action to cop up all the flaws in our education system. Let's re-inspect what the board did during the past decade to accelerate the score of the student. BSEM had introduced to add an optional additional subject, in which the excess mark scored by any student in the additional subject, after subtracting the threshold pass-mark, will be added to the grand total marks of the student.

Yes, this might have increased the overall percentage but those excess marks are not considered any other boards or universities. So, that is of no use. If we have committed to increase the score of the student, it is recommendable that BSEM should check the question pattern and the marking system.

We need to decrease the number of long-answer-type questions and increase the number of short-answer-type questions. For that we can do a 1-2-3 pattern. 1-2-3 pattern is nothing but questions carrying 1 mark, 2 marks and 3 marks.

Increasing short-answer-type questions will help students to answer correctly and score full-mark for those questions. Further, we need to add more application types of question to enhance the quality of the questions.

BSEM needs to build up an advance grading system because grading system is more beneficial and such systems are used by most of the educational boards in Asia, Europe and America.

BSEM requires boosting methodology to recreate a healthy education system which will pave a roadmap of the future generation. The other thing, changing the common board exam to an optional one may not be feasible and operational in Manipur. But we can formulate a tactic to utilize the advantages of such innovation.

What we can do is to make a trend of the historical data of the pass percentage of all the schools and to circulate a cut-off pass percentage for an academic year. To make it the best effort, we can give the cut-off pass percentage as 100%.

What it means here is any schools which can achieve a 100% pass in the common class X board exam will be granted optional exam from the next academic year. This is just an example. Perhaps, we can formulate in many other ways after carefully reading the trend from the past data.

BSEM needs to work briskly now. With insurgency increases rapidly and disturbance prevails in all the systems of Manipur, the educational board should now at least ruminate the best part they can grant to the agile students, to cultivate a better education system in the state.

Finally, it is advisable that all the members of BSEM should stop sitting at the office corner; instead they should come up with some executable initiatives which can give some kudos to the students.

* Premjit Laishangba contributes to regularly. The writer can be contacted at laishangbam(dot)singh(at)accenture(dot)com
This article was webcasted on October 27th, 2009.

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