While all the buzz is usually around board examinations of students in classes X and XII, class IX students going to CBSE schools are taking an annual examination of a different nature this year.
For the first time, they did not get examination question papers set by their subject teachers. The CBSE, emphasising the need for uniformity in summative assessment across schools as part of its Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), prepared question papers for various subjects and mailed the CDs to schools. The schools also received the answer scheme and marking scheme from the Board.
Schools, which are warming up to the new system, not only have to conduct the examination in a manner specified, but also have to ensure students feel at ease.
According to Seethalakshmi Viswanath, Principal, Amrita Vidyalayam School in Nesapakkam, the question papers have been set rationally, and seek to test students' Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).
“While attempting question papers set by our school teachers, often, only those who work really hard do well. But in these papers, any student who knows the concepts well can do reasonably well irrespective of the effort put in just before the examinations,” she says.
Ms. Viswanath also says that schools would be able to build a good question bank that would help test students' conceptual understanding. “Also, besides relieving teachers of the task of setting question papers, it gives them exposure to good question papers that follow desirable standards of testing.”
T.M.J. Padmanabhan, Principal, Sindhi Model Senior Secondary School, Kellys, says this is a “creative change” in the examination system. “If the school sets the paper, it becomes predictable at some level. And, teachers may sometimes set papers according to what they have emphasised in class. The new system rules out such possibilities.” On whether students were stressed about attempting a paper set by the ‘Board', he says that they did not seem frightened or pressured. “In fact, this examination will help schools understand where their students really stand.”
Students do seem quite confident. M.S. Himashiny, a class IX student of DAV Girls School, Gopalapuram, says though she and her friends were initially a little anxious about how these question papers might be, after three examinations they are pretty comfortable taking them. “We expected it to be difficult, but actually they were fairly straight forward papers,” she says. On what the atmosphere in school was like before the examinations, she says: “After our formative assessment, some of us started relaxing. Teachers would ask us to prepare well only to make sure we don't lose focus. And that helped,” she adds.
Charis Daniel, a class VIII student of SBOA School, Anna Nagar, says she looks forward to the annual examination next year. “I think it is good that we have a chance to solve papers set by the CBSE. Now that we do not have a board examination in class X, it will give us practice to take the board examination in class XII.”