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Thumbs-up to non-stop review

New Delhi, March 3: Schoolchildren and their parents, teachers and principals have purportedly given a resounding thumbs-up to a new system of evaluation that has taken the focus away from exams, but some experts are sceptical about the survey results.

At the heart of the matter lies the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system that India’s largest school board introduced in Class IX in 2009, making Class X boards optional for all its pupils from 2011.

The survey tries to settle the debate over the system, under which pupils are assessed — internally and round the year —- for their scholastic as well as extra-curricular performance.

Critics, however, pointed out that the survey reveals the system’s popularity among the stakeholders rather than directly test its efficacy.

The CCE has been adopted by the Central Board of Secondary Education’s (CBSE) 14,000-odd schools. A government undertaking, Educational Consultant India Limited (EdCIL), carried out the survey among 81 CBSE school principals, 544 teachers, 628 parents and 2,225 pupils.

Former CBSE chairperson Ashok Ganguly questioned the findings, released by current human resource development minister M.M. Pallam Raju today.

“When one government organisation’s scheme is assessed by another organisation under the same ministry, the neutrality of the survey is questionable,” Ganguly said, suggesting an outside agency should have been hired.

Faced with the charge that the EdCIL survey did not actually evaluate the CCE’s effectiveness by testing the pupils’ knowledge, CBSE chairperson Vineet Joshi sought to furnish some sort of independent evidence.

He said the first-batch of students who underwent the CCE in Class IX (in 2009) and skipped their Class X boards in 2011 had fared well in their compulsory Class XII board exams last year. The overall pass percentage had increased over the 2012 figures; so had the number of those scoring over 90 per cent.

Two previous CBSE-conducted surveys too had found that the CCE was popular among the schoolchildren, parents and teachers. The latest exercise is being considered more significant because of its larger sample size and because it was carried out by a “third party”.

Most of the children and parents surveyed have claimed the CCE has helped pupils shed their fear of exams, partly because the continuous testing means they are always prepared and partly because the classroom discussions and extra-curricular tasks have developed their confidence.

Ganguly said the CCE was a good idea but its implementation had been faulty. He said the system would have served its purpose better had the assessment been done externally instead of, as happens now, internally by each school.

“I have been visiting many schools in the country,” said Ganguly, who now works with NGOs in the education sector.

“The feedback I have received is that there is no serious classroom transaction (teaching) because the assessment is done internally.”

Minister Raju said he was happy with the CCE’s implementation and that the CBSE would continue the experiment.

The Right To Education Act provides for CCE in elementary classes in all schools. The Centre is studying how it is being implemented in state government schools and its impact on the children’s education.

The CCE was the pet project of former Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal.