For many students, teachers and parents, every mark bears significance. With the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) introducing changes in its pattern of assessment and other Boards also beginning to ponder over their assessment practices, there seems to be potential for a shift in outlook on evaluation of students' capabilities and performance.

The CBSE is organising an international conference on assessment in New Delhi later this month to look into aspects such as best assessment practices, assessment to monitor teacher effectiveness, support system for using assessments in classroom and policy changes in the new educational framework for improved assessments.

Currently, CBSE schools are fairly oriented to the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE), where both formative and summative assessments are used. The CCE was introduced for class IX first and later, schools were given the option of following the system from class VI onwards.

However, teachers might still need some time to get comfortable with the system, say school heads. More so because formative assessment involves grading aspects such as a student's ability to work in a team, communicate effectively and work well on assignments.

Acknowledging that a teacher would inevitably be subjective in evaluating such aspects, P. Vijayalakshmi, principal, Chinmaya Vidyalaya, Chinmaya Nagar, says evolving definite rubrics (scoring tools) and parameters for formative assessment is important. “We often discuss the rubrics evolved by the teachers and see how we can justify our marking scheme. Such exercises will surely help bring down the degree of subjectivity,” she says.

While the response is mixed, taking assessment beyond examinations seems to have certain advantages. “We are able to identify talented children whose potential may not have come out in the conventional examination system,” she says.

Senior teachers in other boards also feel that it is time evaluation was done in a comprehensive manner. Geeta Das, senior teacher, Sacred Heart Matriculation, says students' performance in class and extra curricular activities are observed closely. “We do not record these in the report card. Instead we acknowledge such qualities by giving them prizes,” she says. It is important to let students know what is valued, she adds. “We make a conscious effort to tell them that we do not limit our evaluation to their performance in examinations,” she says, adding that other Boards could take some lessons from the CBSE in this regard.

S. Nithya Sai Lakshmi, teacher, Adi Dravida Welfare Higher Secondary School, Manamai, on the other hand, says evaluation actually reflects on the teacher's performance.

“I believe that a major objective of evaluation is to let a teacher know if what she taught has reached a student. If it has not, the teacher can look at other ways of teaching the same concept.” According to her, the State Board has also begun encouraging schools to look at evaluation comprehensively. Some schools issue report cards with marks scored in examinations on one side, and teachers' comments on a student's ability to draw, write creatively or participate in class on the other. “Assessment actually tells us a lot about our teaching practices, curriculum and the system itself,”Ms. Nithya Sai Lakshmi says.

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Meera SrinivasanJune 28, 2012