Barcodes, those thick and thin lines containing machine-readable data about everything from a packet of cornflakes to a car, will now be used to protect the identities of ICSE and ISC examinees on their answer scripts and eliminate bias.
Starting 2014, each answer script will come with a detachable optical-mark reader (OMR) in the form of a machine-readable identity sheet for the examinee to write his or her name and index number.
The sheet will be separated from the answer script before it is sent for evaluation so that the examiner has no idea who the examinee is. The barcode on the evaluated answer script will be matched later with the one on the identity sheet that also bears the name of the examinee.
“It has become essential to maintain secrecy about the personal information of examinees following complaints about irregularities in the examination process in some boards. Barcoding of answer sheets will help us do that,” a source in the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations said.
Nabarun Dey, secretary of the Association of ICSE Schools and a member of the council’s executive committee, said barcodes were a scientific way of ensuring an evaluation system beyond reproach.
The new answer scripts would be thicker, too. “They will have additional sheets so that examinees don’t need to keep asking for them. We plan to have eight extra sheets each in the ICSE booklets and 12 in those for ISC,” the source said.
Until this year, answer sheets came with the conventional cover page on which students were required to write their names and index numbers. These details were visible to the examiners.
In the barcoding system, there is little chance an examinee would be able to trace the examiner evaluating him or her in a particular subject and using any kind of influence. “But for the handwriting, it will be impossible for an examiner to identify who an answer script belongs to. The examinee wouldn’t know who is evaluating it either. Confidentiality is the tried and trusted way of maintaining fairness,” a council official said.
Once the evaluation process is over, mark sheets will be prepared by matching the barcodes on the OMR sheets and the answer scripts of each candidate in various subjects.
“Technical faults could crop up and the barcodes may not match if students attach too many extra sheets, which is why we have increased the number of pages on each booklet,” the official said.
The OMR sheets are to be separated from the answer scripts at the examination venue.
All answer scripts will be sent to the CISCE’s main office directly from the respective exam venues in specially designed envelopes. Every envelope will have a separate flap to attach the OMR sheets.
“If an envelope is designed to carry, say, 20 answer sheets, then the flap will also have space to keep 20 OMR sheets,” the official said.
Numbers will be printed on the envelopes along with their flaps to eliminate the chance of any OMR sheet being lost or misplaced.
Answer scripts sent for evaluation will be barcoded
A detachable identity sheet with matching barcode will bear an examinee’s name
Evaluated scripts will be matched with the barcoded identity sheets later