All city schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) have begun the process of finding out how many of their class X students want to take the Board examination this year.

While talk of the “optional Board examinations” started earlier, the process picked up this academic year, and has gained pace after the meeting that school heads and parents had with the Board's chairman Vineet Joshi in the city recently.

The general understanding is that students who have decided to continue their Plus-Two in the CBSE stream would be taking the Summative Assessment 2 (SA2) conducted by the school, and those considering switching to another Board would be taking the Board-conducted SA2. The SA2 would carry a weightage of 40 per cent.

However, the final mark sheets given by the Board to students will not indicate which of the SA2 examinations that student took, according to C. Satish, Senior Principal, R.M.K. Group of Schools, who participated in the meeting with the chairman.

In Tamil Nadu, where admissions to professional colleges is based on scores obtained in Class XII, parents might not be able to easily take a decision on whether their child should continue in the CBSE stream, or be shifted to the State Board, says Subala Ananthanarayanan, principal, Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School.

Some parents might want to wait till the consolidated grades are out and then decide.

While the answer sheets of students appearing for the school-conducted SA2 would be evaluated by the school teachers, those of students taking the Board-conducted SA2 would be evaluated by an external examiner. “We have had meetings with parents and we have assured them that the grading of the school-conducted SA2 will be done carefully. We are waiting for their feedback,” Ms. Ananthanarayanan said.

Class XI admission

During his meeting with school heads, the CBSE chairman underscored the point that no school shall base students' admissions to class XI on cut-off marks.

In fact, in 2007, the Madras High Court ruled that Class XI should be treated as a continuation of the original admission done by the school and that no admission tests should be conducted by schools for their own students.

It also directed all CBSE schools in Tamil Nadu to display on the notice board details such as the number of seats available in Class XI, applications received, selection procedure and the merit list of candidates.

Most schools have also held meetings with parents to discuss the issue and clarify doubts. G. Neelakantan, principal, Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior School, said “We are going absolutely by the circular. Children of our school will be given priority in admission. Subject to vacancies, admissions will be opened up for children of other schools.”

The school also asked how many of the parents were sure of sending their wards to class XI in the same institution.

“I needed to know the number, so that we have enough sections and teachers. Depending on the response from parents, we will work out a plan,” he said. Of the nearly 110 students studying in class X, over 60 have opted for the school-conducted SA2 so far.

Mr. Satish said over 90 per cent of his students had opted for the SA2 conducted by the school.

Keeping options open

Some students might want to keep more options open. What about those students who take the SA2 conducted by the Board and later wish to seek admission in the CBSE stream again?

According to a parent of a student going to a CBSE school in South Chennai, a circular has been sent through his daughter, asking for one of the two options. “The understanding is that if we want to opt for the Board examination, we have to leave the stream. We might put our daughter in a different CBSE school or shift her to a State Board school,” he said.

Mr. Satish said that if CBSE schools had vacancies after accommodating their own students who took the school's SA2 examination, nothing could prevent them from admitting students who took the Board's SA2 from the same school or another school.

If the grade certificate bears no indication of whether a student took the Board or the school-conducted examination, it should not matter to schools of other Boards considering these students for admission to their Plus Two sections, according to school heads.

Some parents such as Radhika Mahesh are quite clear that their child would be shifting to the State Board. “I personally feel that she will find the State Board easier, so she is taking the Board's SA2 and moving out.”

Her daughter Shramatha Mahesh says she found the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) challenging to cope with. But many of her friends are unsure how to make this decision.