Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation In Schools
- a step in the right direction -

L Kamakhyakumar Singh *

Morning Dew School situated at Kapaar Kachoung Village under Kakching, Manipur

One of the major weaknesses conventional evaluation system has is its complete dependence on the three hour final examination that a student has to sit at the end of an assigned course of syllabus on the outcome of which his/her fate in terms of marks or grades is sealed. Even if a student does quite satisfactorily through the year and if, for one or other reason, say due to an illness, he/she underperforms in the public examination, then an unsatisfactory tag is appended to his/her certificate.

In such cases the certificate is not a true representation of the student's personality. There is no way the certificate that he/she gets will reveal his or her above average performance through the year. Another deficiency in the traditional examination is its too much dependence on the subjective judgment of teachers evaluating answer scripts—variation in marks between the two teachers awarding the marks sometimes as high as 15 per cent. All these shortcomings leave deep scar on the students and parents, sometimes leading to desperation. One cannot blame the teachers for this imperfection—subjectivity is one of the attributes humans have in God's world.

Further, we have so far evaluated only the cognitive areas of a young scholar neglecting other aspects of human personality such as leadership quality, sense of responsibility, attitude, etc which are as important as cognitive aspects. A person is much more than his/her stock of cognitive knowledge. He/She may turn out to be, in spite of very high academic knowledge, a diffident person, or a cruel individual who savour harming fellow human beings, or one with cowardice hidden in his/her inner being.

On the positive side a young man may have a hidden talent—love for sports and games, or music, or a concern for the environment, or with a strong sense of responsibility and leadership, one who can conquer the insurmountable. As of now, the certificates offered by our educational institutions have no reflections to these aspects—neither the positive side nor the negative side.

It needs not much of an explanation to do that it is in our educational institutions where young men and women are to be mentally and physically groomed and shaped to fit in the requirement of a well-fare society. Individual homes and society in which one lives, of course, moulds one's personality to a great extent. But, it is in the schools which should give direction to the growth of the personality of a young person in tune with the national and international aspirations.

In modern world we expect our young men and women to be leaders with strong sense of duties and responsibilities, saturated with democratic ideals, and love of honesty with a strong hatred for corruption. We want them to understand what modern world is and how they would have to fit themselves in it. Co-scholastic concerns have thus taken an important area in our educational system today. Under it teachers will groom the students for what they ought to be while giving proper attention to individual characteristics and nurturing them towards fuller growth.

Internal Assessment: I have already touched on a few of the shortcomings of the traditional one-shot final public examination of three hour duration. While it is not advisable to altogether do away with it, it is desirable that the short comings it has are minimised as far as possible. One aspect of traditional three–hour final examination is that it is completely unconnected with the day-to-day teaching-learning exercise that goes on in the class-room. It is more or less a means of declaring the students passed or failed, based entirely on an evaluation system which has inherent defects in its execution due to human nature being what it is, and as such it is a source of fear in the students. It encourages rote-learning and luck plays a significant role in the outcome of the examination result.

A student who did not give proper time and labour to his/her studies through the year may get a high percentage of marks if luck favours him in his selection of questions and if his memory power is sharp without understanding what he/she has memorised. We cannot say that education, real education, is merely passing the examination even with high marks; it means a lot more than that.

It is here that CCE or Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation is expected to do away with some of these drawbacks in the conventional examinations. Under it evaluation will be done not at the gap of months with one final public examination deciding the fate of students. Its inherent in-built strength is its continuous nature and regularity. In the Board of Secondary Educati-on, Manipur the Internal Assessment carrying 20 marks is done in the form of oral examination, conversational skill, project work, etc. The monthly examinations are, of course, compulsory and a student must have to score the minimum pass mark in these examinations to qualify for the final public examination which is of 80 marks.

In the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Manipur, the format of Internal Assessment is slightly different although both the formats, the one followed by the BSEM and the other followed by COHSEM, serve the same purpose of bringing in more objectivity, validity and reliability in the evaluation system. In the Council of Higher Secondary Education, the monthly examinations are called Formative Examinations, because they actually provide feedback to the teachers in helping the students to form their knowledge banks, and they are held at small doses (25 marks) each subject at regular intervals.

Then there are the project works for science stream students and assignments for subjects not involving practical, both of which will test if the students are capable of applying their theoretical knowledge into practical life; then finally there is a Summative Examination I (SAI), so called because it will test the sum total of knowledge a student has gathered during the academic course and which is held in the friendly atmosphere of home (own school) environment. The sum total of the marks of the three Formative Examinations together with the marks for Project/Assignment will be calculated to form 50% (ie 10 marks) of the 20 marks of the Internal Assessments.

The marks obtained from the Summative Examination will form the remaining 50% (or 10 marks) of the total of 20. Then there is the Summative Examination II, the final public examination conducted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education, which carries a total mark of 80. The marks obtained by a student in the internal examination will reflect if a student had been consistently good in his or her studies. A good student, regular in his/her studies will certainly score good marks, over and above the fact that the marks obtained by a student will reflect, in a way, the student's study habit throughout the academic session.

One significant aspect of CCE is in its turning evaluation into an exercise closely knit into the fabric of day-to-day class-room teaching and learning process. Because of its flexibility a teacher will be free to hold a test in a class period on a chapter or unit on his/her own. It is to be held as a part of the daily school activities. The main purpose of these tests is to cull feedback of what he/she had taught. Depending on the feedback the teacher should decide if a remedial teaching will be necessary or not. All this evaluation exercise, because of their frequency and non-threatening atmosphere in which they are held makes the students free from examination phobia.

Evaluation itself is freed from one time exercise unconnected with day-to-day classroom teaching–learning activities, a monster of a night-mare to students. Evaluation is turned into an exercise that the students look forward to, and for the teachers a convenient tool to carry on the business of teaching–learning activity. This is indeed a great plus point in favour of CCE.

Misgivings: A note of cynicism is bound to come up when such a major, if not revolutionary, change is introduced in any system of human activity. Opinions are heard that the teachers would simply take the easy way of awarding the 20 internal marks to each student. But the success or failure of a bold scheme depends on such things such as organisation, monitoring, etc of the implementing authority, over and above the sincerity and honesty of the personnel who would be at the execution-end of the scheme.

Teachers must have faith in themselves and in their own sense of sincerity and honesty and ability to shoulder the burden of carrying out a scheme which will without doubt create a plateform for a big leap forward in the educational system of the State. Moreover, the marks awarded in the internal mark is not the be-all and end-all of a student's performance.

A student getting a wrong 20 marks in the Internal Assessment will not necessarily get a good mark if he/she is not a really good student and performs below par in the final public examination. There will always be a sort of levelling that will be an acceptable reflection of a student's true knowledge and capacity. Moreover, inconsistency between the two categories of marks, namely Internal and External will give a negative reflection about the sincerity level of teachers and the school authority indulging in such carelessness.

Co-scholastic areas: If the aim of education is the holistic development of the human personality, it should be obvious to all that it is the duty of the schools and institutions where the growth and grooming of the personality should take place. In a modern welfare society, every citizen, specially young men and women, should have a firm faith in democratic ideals, they should be groomed to be leaders, to be world citizens with love for humanity as a whole, conscious of the stake humans have in protecting the environment, of the uniqueness of his/her home the lonely planet, and the issues important for the continuation of human species, etc, etc, over and above being a person skilled in certain areas of cognitive aspects.

Further, every individual's uniqueness in his/her personality is to be recognised—the negative elements are to be removed while the positive attributes are to be nurtured and groomed. Till recently these non-scholastic areas were beyond the ambit of evaluation, and schools more or less, neglected them. But, today's society needs information in the case of every single individual on such aspects of young man and woman's personality.

But as to award marks in co-scholastic areas in numerical terms will entail an impossibility, the student's co-scholastic aspects will be narrated and evaluation will be done in terms of grades (A+,A,B .... etc.). The individual student's mark sheet will carry information about his/her personal attributes in such aspects as Personal and Social qualities, Interest in Games and Sports, or in Literary and Scientific activities as well as information relating to his/her Health and Hobbies.

The term 'Comprehensive' in CCE denotes this holistic or all embracing aspect of the student's personality. It really should be a wonderful feeling to look at a young person's Mark Sheet/Progress Report and get to know a summary of his/her holistic personality, both in cognitive and non-cognitive aspects.

Education is an ever changing ever evolving human activity and there is no one education system absolutely perfect in itself. The dynamic nature of society itself demands an ever–changing dynamic educational system. And therefore persons who are actively engaged in education, as well as parents, students, virtually every citizens in a welfare society should be ready to accept the dynamism inherent in education. There should not be any doubt nor cynicism in the good that will follow the introduction of the new system.

Society today expects much more from our young men and women than it used to, say, a few decades ago. Our educational system should be capable of delivering what society demands of it, or else society will literally be on the back gear. It is the duty of teachers to shoulder the responsibility society expects them to carry out with belief in themselves. After all, what are teachers if they are not makers of the builders of society.

* L Kamakhyakumar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express. The writer is the Principal of HRD Academy, Imphal. This article was posted on August 10, 2011.

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