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Schools doubt online assessments

Exams not realistic and do not reflect how much a child has learnt: Teachers and principals
The marks are being scaled up because it is no longer a 80-marks paper in many institutions.

Jhinuk Mazumdar   |   Calcutta   |   Published 14.01.21, 02:46 AM

Schools have conducted online exams this academic year but several heads said they were not sure if it was a “right assessment” of how much the students had learned.

One school has done away with ranks, prizes and scholarship for senior classes this academic year and two others are considering doing so.

At least two other schools are pushing back their final term exams so they can conduct them on the campus if allowed by the government.

Teachers can only appeal to the students for “honesty and integrity” but they have found instances suggesting some of them had copied from books or elders helped them write the answers, a principal said.

Also, the marks are being scaled up because it is no longer a 80-marks paper in many institutions.

“The online exam is an exercise to prepare a report card and not a right assessment of how much a child has learnt,” said Terence Ireland, the principal of St James’ School.

The Cambridge School has decided to award only grades, not marks, to students of senior classes.

In a notice to guardians of the students of Classes IX to XII, the school said: “...as the integrity of online examinations cannot be guaranteed in full, grades rather than marks will be awarded to students on the basis of examinations and class performance. For the same reason, ranks, prizes and scholarships will not be awarded this year.”

Loreto House held a meeting recently and decided not to give out academic and at-tendance certificates at the end of the year.

Mahadevi Birla World Academy is "deliberating" doing away with ranks, prizes and scholarships.

Proctoring exams online is posing a challenge to teachers though detailed instructions have been sent to students and guardians about the conduct of the exams.

A teacher at an ISC school in the city said it was difficult for them to proctor the exams online. “There are more than 40 students and to monitor all of them online at once is not possible. We can only check if they leave their desk,” the teacher said.

Another teacher said that it was difficult for them to know if a student had opened another browser on the screen or is sending chat messages.

“Not just while writing a paper, students can cheat even when uploading it,” a teacher said.

In an online exam teachers cannot be sure if a student has copied answers from books or taken help from others, Ireland said.

“In online education, one thing still lacking is a system to have proper online examination. We have found that sufficient proctoring solutions are not available,” said Sarojesh Mukerjee, the director of The Cambridge School.

St James’ School and Calcutta Girls’ High School both are hoping they can conduct final-term exams on campus.

“We have time till March and if we get any indication to call the students to school, we could have the exams on campus for classes VIII to XII. But parents’ consent has to be taken,” said Basanti Biswas, the principal of Calcutta Girls’ High School.

Also, across many schools the exams have been of shorter duration and of fewer marks, which is not a realistic assessment.

“The exams are of fewer marks and they are scaled up. The duration is also less. That is not a realistic assessment of a child,” said Anjana Saha, the principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.

The school has given them time-bound short-answer questions where they have to finish off within a certain time which does not give them scope to refer to books or seek help.

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