There are at least two weeks for the new academic year to begin, but for teachers in most schools, the reopening day is not far away. The new calendar year generally rings in with teacher training workshops and with schools under the State Government unclear how the trimester pattern will work, this year's session will be even more important.

Nearly 425 teachers of classes I to VIII of Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Mogappair will have their three-day training from June 2. But the school reopens much earlier for teachers, on May 28.

“Just tell us what Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) is all about?” is the common question resource persons are asked, as this is what management of matriculation schools want their staff oriented on. Kaligi Ranganathan Montford Schools have scheduled their workshop for May 29 with a CCE expert. Many other schools are planning programmes after the school reopens, or in July. Beginning this academic year, the State government is introducing CCE in all government and private schools that follow the state board syllabus. As per the new system, a student will be evaluated based on her performance throughout the year, rather than on just one final exam. The CBSE includes both academic subjects and extra-curricular activities in its evaluation.

Is CCE just a borrowed idea from CBSE or is the State Government going to introduce it differently? Is there a mentoring and monitoring team to guide schools as CBSE did when it introduced CCE over two years ago? These are many other questions that are being raised as schools look for more clarity.

The School Education Department is yet to start workshops for teachers on the fundamentals of such an evaluation system but has held meetings with school heads where they were briefed and told that teaching manuals would be reaching them soon. According to principals, the department is planning to take small steps in its implementation of CCE, as there is time till August when the first semester examinations will be held.

Educational services organisation such as EZ Vidya, say that today, teacher-orientation programmes are an important agenda in the curriculum. Sudha Ravi, master trainer for CCE and teacher trainer for Oxford University Press, says this will be a huge paradigm shift for teachers, as CCE expects them to explore beyond the textbook. Schools should also have such workshops for parents, she says. “Teachers will anyway fall into the system, whereas it is parents who need to be informed about continuous assessment. They are important stakeholders,” she adds.