Several students, parents and educationists on Thursday criticised the formula announced by the Central Board of Secondary Education for awarding marks to its outgoing Class XII students, especially the weightage given to their Class X and XI scores.
The critics said there was no correlation between the subjects taught in Classes XII and X, making such weightage irrelevant, and that students generally did not take the Class XI exam seriously and underperformed in it.
The Supreme Court is expected to take a final decision on the formula on Monday.
C.B. Sharma, former chairman of the National Institute of Open Schooling, a national board for non-formal students, underlined that the Class X syllabus contained a “generic” paper like “science” while the Class XII curriculum had separate physics, chemistry and biology papers.
Under the CBSE formula, 30 per cent weightage will accrue (in the theory component) to the average score from the student’s best three performing subjects out of the main five subjects in the Class X board exams.
“In Class X, students have the option of taking two language papers and a few other subjects. If a student did well in the language papers and another humanities subject and then chose the science stream in Class XII, their aptitude in the (Class XII) science subjects will be judged partly by their performance in humanities subjects,” Sharma said.
He said commerce students would suffer the worst. “Commerce students study subjects like accountancy and business studies, but the Class X syllabus offers no such subject. So commerce students’ Class X scores have little relevance to their Class XII performance,” Sharma said.
He also criticised the 30 per cent weightage given to the students’ scores from their Class XI annual exam, saying the students don’t normally take that exam seriously.
“As a long-term policy measure, this would have been good because it would have forced the students to study seriously in every class,” Sharma said.
“But you can’t catch them unawares (by suddenly) enforcing this policy with retrospective effect.”
Shreya Sasmal, a Class XII student from Delhi Public School, Udhampur (Jammu), said the credibility of any assessment without a board exam being held would remain questionable.
“I would have been happier had the exams not been cancelled. The Class XII certificate carries a lot of importance throughout a student’s career. Now they have worked out a formula, but the credibility of the certificate may be affected,” she said.
Sasmal, a science student, is preparing for a career in medicine, where an all-India entrance test is the norm.
But for many of her peers who will seek admission to general science, arts or commerce courses, the Class XII marks will be key.
Janvi Raj, who studies at a CBSE school in Sharjah, was unhappy with the weightage given to the Class XI exam. She said students tend to take it easy in Class XI, which falls between the two “stressful” years of preparing for the Class X and XII board exams.
“Therefore, it’s natural that the Class XI results don’t reflect the full capability of an average student. Class XII is quite different, so it’s obvious that students would score better in Class XII,” Janvi said.
“My suggestion is that the Class XI marks be kept out of the assessment.”
Alpana Mishra, a parent and a biology teacher from Vadodara, said that giving weightage to the Class X boards was unfair because the students’ attitudes and performance change in the subsequent two years.
“Some students transform into mature and focused pupils while some get distracted. Some students do better in Class XII when they can study subjects of their choice. On the other hand, many students take Class XI as a fun year,” Mishra said.
Some principals and students, however, supported the formula.
“The CBSE took the past three years’ performance into consideration (as a tool for moderation) to ensure there was no spiking of marks by schools,” Priyadarshi Nayak, principal of Doon Public School in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, said.
“I have a sense that giving weightage to the Class X marks will not make much of a difference. However, a section of students and teachers will have concerns about any formula.”
Shakti Sharma, a Class XII student from Jaipuriar School, Mumbai, said the formula rewarded “academic consistency”. But he found the idea of using a reference year to check artificial inflation of marks an “arbitrary” practice.
Under the formula, the year out of the previous three in which a school’s students did the best in the Class XII boards is to be taken as the reference, and the marks for 2020-21 are not to diverge beyond a prescribed range from that year’s.
“Students’ scores being limited by the past performance of the school will have undesirable consequences,” Sharma said.