New Delhi, Aug 1: The human resource development ministry has decided to set up yet another committee to study the one-nation-one-test proposal for aspiring engineers and suggest ways to get the IITs to agree to the format with some weightage to board marks.
The proposed panel, most likely to be headed by scientist C.N.R. Rao, would be the third of its kind to study the feasibility of a single entrance test since the idea was floated amid opposition from the premier tech schools.
Unlike the earlier committees, the new panel will include IIT faculty who have also been opposing the idea of giving weightage to Class XII marks because of the heterogeneity in assessment standards among school boards.
The IITs have agreed to follow a two-tier test — comprising the JEE-Main and JEE-Advanced — that will replace the IIT-JEE and the All India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) from next year.
The JEE-Main, the first-round test of the new Joint Entrance Examination, will be mandatory for students aspiring for admission to any of the centrally funded technical institutions such as the IITs, NITs and IIITs.
The JEE-Advanced will be conducted entirely by the IITs, which would then draw up a merit list based on students’ performance in the test and provided they are among the top 20 percentile holders of their respective boards and categories (general or reserved).
A student’s percentile score is obtained by dividing the number of students below him or her with the number that appeared, and multiplying the ratio by 100.
The two-tier test, to be followed by the IITs, however, defeats the one-nation-one-test idea. So HRD minister Kapil Sibal, who has been advocating a single entrance exam in engineering, started exploring ways to get the IITs on board.
In 2010, the ministry set up a committee of IIT directors headed by IIT Kharagpur’s Damodar Acharya which suggested a common test modelled on the US-based Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and weightage to school board performance for admission to engineering and science courses.
For IITs, it suggested an add-on test after the common entrance.
The ministry then set up another committee, under science and technology secretary T. Ramasamy, which said there may be two tests — one main exam and the other an advanced test — with flexibility for institutions to select students through either the main test or both. But it suggested at least 40 per cent weightage to board marks while selecting students for admission.
Following the opposition of IIT faculty to the weightage to board marks and the one-tier entrance, the ministry felt it should include the faculty in the new committee to ensure that its recommendations would be accepted by the tech schools.
In June, Sibal held a meeting with some IIT Kanpur faculty members on this issue.
IIT Faculty Federation president K. Narasimhan said a single-entrance test might not serve the requirement of IITs. “It is good that the ministry is setting up a committee with IIT faculty members. This means there will be a thorough discussion and better analysis of the whole issue. But a single test cannot serve the requirement of the IITs. It can only be a filter,” he said.
“I do not think the IITs will agree to the idea of weightage to board marks also. The standard of syllabus, teaching and assessment procedure varies from board to board. These things have to be brought on a par,” he added.
Dheeraj Sanghi, who teaches at IIT Kanpur, said an advanced test like the IIT-JEE helps identify students who are “better”.
“In IIT-JEE, nearly 20,000 students out of the five lakh taking the test are able to score over 30 or 40 per cent. Large chunks of students score near zero. This … helps the IITs identify those students who are better,” Sanghi said.
Asked whether the IITs would agree to a one-tier common entrance if its standard was improved to the level of the IIT-JEE, Sanghi said such a test would not help lower-rung institutions. “If you make the common test a tough exam, then 70 per cent students will score close to zero. The engineering colleges in states will find it difficult to select students,” he said. “Besides, it will destroy the self-confidence of lakhs of students.”