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Grades to score over marks

After the outrage over the Higher Secondary (HS) and Madhyamik marks scandals, the government appears to be inching towards implementing a Central government proposal to replace the present assessment system with grades.

School education minister Kanti Biswas said on Sunday the government was in the “final stages” of examining the proposal, approved by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT). “There are many advantages in the grade system,” admitted Biswas. “But it is a new concept and many factors will have to be examined for the successful implementation of this system.”

Biswas, however, cautioned that even if the government gave full marks to the grade system, it was up to the Madhyamik Board and the Higher Secondary Council, both autonomous bodies, to work out a formula to adopt the new system. “We will extend cooperation to them,” added Biswas.

The government had accepted the grades proposal, in principle, during a meeting with officials of the NCERT in Delhi last year. The Bengal government’s present push to implement the NCERT suggestion has clearly been triggered by the marks muddle, culminating in a slew of court cases and altered numbers. Sources in the education department added that the grade system would not specify the exact marks obtained by examinees, thus reducing the pressure on students and leaving less room for grievance and redress.

As a first step towards phasing out the present evaluation system, the Higher Secondary Council is poised to scrap the merit list from next year. Instead, it will publish a list of students scoring 900 marks and above. The measure is being considered in order to avoid the kind of embarrassment caused this time, when the Madhyamik merit list wore a drastically different look, post-scrutiny.

Jyotirmoy Mukherjee, president, West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education, said: “We are thinking of introducing a number of changes in our examination system and the grade system is one of them. We are planning to do so as soon as possible, as it is a more scientific method, practised in most other countries.”

Mukherjee, while admitting to lapses in the examination system that had led to “some mistakes in the marksheets”, expressed concern over the tendency among students to challenge their results in court. According to him, nearly 124 examinees had filed cases, but the marks of only two had increased. “The figure is negligible, considering there are nearly four-lakh examinees. But the fact that more and more students are moving court is sending out a wrong signal to the people and eroding their confidence in the functioning of the Council,” added Mukherjee.

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