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Updated: May 11, 2011 02:07 IST

Are centums the mark of academic excellence?

Liffy Thomas
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This year, higher secondary students of the State have scored maximum number of centums not only in maths, physics, chemistry and biology, but also in subjects such as economics and statistics. Examiners rarely give centums in economics and statistics, say teachers and students.

In Chennai district, for instance, 17 students have scored centum in statistics . In 2010, no one achieved this. Only 3 centums were awarded in 2010 for economics, while 63 students scored full marks in this year's examination, whose results were declared on Monday. A student of Uthamapalayam has scored centum in History, while in languages such as French, Sanskrit, Hindi and Tamil, many have lost the centum only by two marks. Botany is, probably, the only subject where no student has got a centum. Last year, seven students got centum.

Has the evaluation pattern changed? Or, is it the competition that has driven many students to achieve what was once difficult?

V.Vijayalakshmi and Kalyani Sudhakar, economics teachers of Sri Ahobila Math Oriental Higher Secondary School, believe there has been an attitudinal change on the part of the examiners. “Students have only got what they deserved. A few months ago, at a meeting called by the School Education Department, we did raise our voice on why students of economics were not given centum when other subjects were given,” says Ms. Vijayalakshmi, who is glad that 15 of her students got centums in economics. “Even in school exams , we give full marks if a student deserves or I should be able to justify my evaluation,” she adds.

Most teachers agree everything rests on the evaluation and the framework of the syllabus. State Board examinations test the objective aspect and if a student has represented exactly what is there in the book, the examiner is more than happy to give full marks, say teachers. While marks are what ultimately matters for getting into a reputable college as well as to find a job, academics say school examinations should test the analytical knowledge.

“Testing a student on the text-oriented knowledge would not help a student in the long run,” says E.S. Chandrasekaran, senior English teacher, D.A.V. Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Anna Nagar. He suggests that testing pattern be revamped, where English conversation skills are also assessed.

A. Karunanandam, former HOD of History, Vivekananda College, says centum does not indicate excellence. “It is the evaluation system that allows a student to get full marks, and many a time this depends on what the government has to say. In humanities and languages, accuracy is impossible and therefore getting centums is difficult,” he adds.

G. Balasubramanian, former director (academics), CBSE, says the very objective of setting a paper is to see how students fare. “So, if the examiner has set a paper out of 100, it must be achievable and when students' get it all right there is nothing wrong in giving full marks,” he adds.

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Liffy ThomasJune 28, 2012

I do agree with the above. Our TN Board exams test the memorising skill of the students only not their real subject knowledge. By this kind of freak centums, can we ever say that our student community is improving? I am sure there are a few students with great skills but most of them have just rewritten word by word what is given in the text book. That is the reason for our lagging behind in all the competitive exams.

from:  V S Padmavvathi
Posted on: May 14, 2011 at 07:47 IST

The huge rise in Centums scored in the TN Board exams is not an indication of excellence. Instead, it is reflective of dilution of standards in the syllabus, quality of papers set for such exams and the evaluation system. A Centum should represent a very high degree of achievement in a subject. Which will mean that examination papers should have a reasonable proportion of questions that test the examinee at a higher level that just mere knowledge of questions in the textbook. One would like ponder why students from TN do not fare as well in All India competitive exams. The whole system of education/examination in TN needs a rethink.

from:  C K Jaidev
Posted on: May 11, 2011 at 10:55 IST
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