While there can be no complaints that Higher Secondary School Leaving Certificates are being assessed and awarded without any formal examination in view of the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the manner and strategy of the proposed method of assessment has raised many serious questions and criticisms for the likelihood this may result in a disadvantage for meritorious students who had hoped and probably were capable of scoring above the ceiling prescribed under this strategy.
It may be recalled, an alternative assessment/evaluation mechanism for assessment of students in Class XI and XII for 2020-2021 has already been declared by Education(S) Department, Government of Manipur. This is in response to the impact of Covid 19 pandemic and the unprecedented and grim health situation resulting out of it which has disrupted society in several ways and in particular, the educational process in schools.
As a measure for health concerns, safety and future of the students, the Class XI and Higher Secondary Examination, 2021 had been cancelled vide COHSEM Notification no. 2/25/96-HSC dated 16/06/2021 of the Secretariat: Education (S) Department, Government of Manipur. It also announced the mode of assessment of marks in appreciation to the needs for Higher Secondary School Leaving Certification for the students, and its importance in facilitating students in their pursuit of higher education.
As for Class XI students’ promotion to Class XII, the COHSEN said it was awaiting the approval of the Exam Committee of the Council of its assessment method. This assessment pattern is to be done on the basis of the students’ performance in the school-based assessments. Tabulation sheets are then be provided by the council and the same submitted to the Council after computation of the marks.
In regards to the assessment procedures of Higher Secondary School Leaving Certification, now that Council examinations have been cancelled, the assessment of theory portion of 100/70/40 marks is proposed to be done in the following manner.
A total of 50% marks is to be based on Class XII school-based internal assessments, such as marks based on term tests, pre-final exams, assignments, projects, viva voce and class attendance of students. Another 20% marks will be calculated from Class XI marks based on average of best three performed subjects of Class XI exam. The remaining 30% marks will come from Class X marks based on average theory/external component of best three performed subjects out of main subjects.
The problem that arises here is, the total marks awarded for Higher Secondary School Leaving Certification is to be in consonance with the best performance of the school in the preceding three years of Class-XII Council Examinations.
However, in annexure-3, it is also mentioned that the council will provide the broad distribution of marks across students for a particular subject, for the school, based on the performance of the school in the subject in Class XII Council Examination in reference year. The total theory marks of the students to be distributed regarding the particular subjects are bound by the council within the range of +/-5 marks of the given assessed average marks.
A restriction has also been placed so that marks do not exceed overall average of assessed marks in all subjects calculated based on the performance in the reference year and the committee may have to scale/revise Class XI and Class XII theory marks only as per requirement, and Class X marks are not be moderated as these are already standardised i.e., the schools are allowed a variation of 5 marks from the subject average and the overall average for all the subjects shall not exceed the average of the reference year by 2 marks.
The problem is, most teachers or examiners foresee difficulty in distribution of marks within the given fixed range set by the Council precisely because individuals as well as school performances vary substantially from year to year. This being so, many students may not be satisfied at being allotted or awarded marks in a standardised way, as each of them have every different potential. Basing their marks on the performance of the school in a particular reference year, therefore can put bright students at a great disadvantage in crucial career choices that will depend on these marks.
The anticipated scenario is, in the post-COVID scenario, in all fairness to the brighter students, there may come the necessity of re-examination to have a more realistic and just assessment of the potential of students aiming higher for marks for their future career path options, such as at the time of admission to institutions of choice or applying for scholarships, where their marks will be required to be assessed in comparison to students from other states of the country.
News Anchor at ISCOM, and a degree holder in mass communication from the Department of Mass Communication, Manipur University