The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Grades get final marks from school boards

The state government has reached the final stage of preparations for replacing the conventional system of awarding marks for assessing and evaluating Madhyamik and Higher Secondary (HS) examinees with the grading system.

Understanding that introduction of grades will help reduce exam-related tension and cut-throat competition among students, the state government had agreed in principle when the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) approached it last year with the proposal.

The state government has held a series of meetings and seminars over the past several months to discuss the merits and demerits of the proposed grading system, against the conventional method of awarding marks.

Officials in the school education department recently held a meeting with senior officials of the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education to review expert opinion on the issue that emerged from year-long interactive sessions.

“We have no problem converting the existing system of awarding marks to grades. Officials of the state Madhyamik Board and the Higher Secondary Council are now ready to record their views with the NCERT on how this can be best done in Bengal,” said Kanti Biswas, state school education minister.

Sources close to officials working out the strategies for replacing marks with grades said most academicians who have been consulted during the interactive sessions have strongly recommended implementation of the NCERT proposal.

One of the main reasons for the government’s keenness on doing away with the marks system is that it feels the NCERT proposal will help it curb the craze among students to seek private tuition from in-service teachers of state-aided schools.

“A glaring demerit of the marking system is that it allows students to compare marks, which, in turn, leads to cut-throat competition. This gives rise to much anxiety, sometimes driving students to resort to extreme steps, even to the extent of ending their lives,” one of the experts observed.

Targets set by others, and not their own potential, spur students to become achievers when the existing marks system is followed. “Such a system is defective and blocks the students’ capacity to make the best of the education system they are offered,” another academician said.

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