100% MARKS AND 98.75% CUT-OFFS …..

about 7 months ago
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 By Ruma Dubey

Last week, the Maharashtra SSC results were declared -  around 14.5 lakh students passed, of which 63,331 students across Maharashtra scored 90% or above while 125 students have got 100% marks.

How does one score 100% marks? That’s the first question which pops into the mind. What about language papers and subjective answers? How can one score 100% in these subjective papers?

And now take a look at the CBSE 12th standard exam results – 1.07 lakh students appeared for the exams of which 83% passed and of this, 72,599 students – a staggering 62% scored over 90% or more. 12,73

Today, Delhi University will announce its cut-off; prior to this, St.Stephen’s college announced a cut-off of 98.75% for economics, 98% for Science and English. 12,737 students have scored over 95% so what does that mean for these super performers? Despite scoring so high, they are not guaranteed a seat in some of the best colleges of India.

But over and above all this, the question which dogs the mind is – are the students getting smarter or are the question papers dumbed down?

It’s a combination of both and once again, the permeation of politics in the education system – the most dangerous kind. If you read beyond the results of students, we see that the result is more about the state – it is all about the percentage point of passing students. There is this competition to emerge with the highest percentage of pass students. And in thus pursuit, question papers are indeed dumbed down and those who are smarter, emerge as rising stars.

There is a confusion here – we constantly read reports about poor or no teaching faculty. The Annual Status of Education Report, 2017 stated that 25% of the 14-18 year olds cannot read basic text in their own language and over 50% struggle with division in math. And there was also news that some 10 lakh students dropped out of Uttar Pradesh board exams on the grounds of imposition of strict measures to curb cheating. So we have issues of poor quality of teachers and yet, we get these results? Seriously, there is some major mismatch here.

Many in the education sector say that the competition between the states apart, what we are also seeing the “objectification” of the question papers. Knowing that the students are challenged when it comes to writing sentences, there are more number of ‘objective’ questions to test their knowledge rather than language or grammar skills. Yes, there are subjective questions but even within that, some keywords are given to the assessor – if a student puts in those words, irrespective of the sentence construction, he can score 100% even in a language paper.

Talking about keywords, the quality of assessors is also a big issue. They themselves lack any training or sometimes any knowledge about the paper which they are assessing. To get over this, they are given a set of keywords to look out for in each subjective answer – if all the keywords mentioned for the answer are used, the student scores 100%.

We are not taking away any credit from the students who have done so well; they have worked very hard to score and shine but the disappointment is that they do not find place in the best colleges even after doing so well. Isn’t there a big problem here…somewhere this entire system has got imbalanced.

The solution to this is to first have in place well-trained teachers and that will begin with culling the corruption in BEd colleges. We need to work really hard at upgrading the quality of education imparted in Govt schools – we need to bring it at par or better than the private sector schools. Exams have to become real tests of learning or else, along with retail inflation, we will continue to face an unrealistic situation of grade inflation.

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