Manshuja Nair is a worried mother these days. There has been a decline in the academic performance of her 14-year-old daughter over the past year. “Extra hours of study and coaching classes haven't helped and her teachers don't consider the fact that she was doing very well till recently,” she says.

The concerns of Manjusha and others like her are increasingly gaining currency as experts point out that with a variety of factors influencing children's performance, the challenge lies in developing a holistic mode of evaluation and coming up with techniques to process this information.

Many schools in the city plan to equip themselves with scientifically designed software that seeks address this. As part of this process, they have resorted to digitise their report cards that have single sheets, with graphs and figures, to help teachers and parents gain a comprehensive view of the child's performance. Apart from helping teachers identify the high variations in students' performance and understand their needs, such applications take the burden of remembering and storing mathematical data off the teachers' shoulders.

The evaluation by a software application, says Ajeeth Prasath Jain, Senior Principal of Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram, helps in doing away with report cards that record a lot of information, but do not necessarily help analyse and process the relevance of such data.

Conversion of marks into grades, plotting them on graphs and using different colours to mark different parameters make the understanding simpler and help the teacher focus on teaching, he says.

Sujatha Prakash, a physics teacher, says, while she would always know how students performed in her subject, it is cumbersome to sit with papers to know how they are in other subjects. “Digitised sheets help to get a quick and precise view of the child's performance in all subjects, based on which we try to help him/her,” she adds. Teachers also observe that besides identifying students for specific coaching, the system helps to track a student's progress across years. “Topic-wise analysis, helping a new teacher know how a particular student is, understanding the lesser known details about the performance of a child, including his health problems and identifying the outliners, i.e. knowing the children who consistently perform outstandingly well in a particular area are things technology brings in,” says Ananthraman Mani, founder of Reportbee that provides “digitalising solutions” to schools.

Another advantage of the system, says S.S. Nathan, CEO of BVM Global School, that uses an inbuilt application system of online evaluation and digitise report cards in its schools, is transparency.

“ We not only use the system for an appraisal of teachers but also to maintain the payment details, the expenses incurred and other information pertaining to the fees, and mail to parents whenever they ask for it, he says.

At the end of the day, it is fundamentally important to know what method suits which student, says Mr. Mani. “Our evaluation patterns are such a drudgery, and perhaps the reason why we fail to identify the ‘Einsteins' of today because all we know is they have red lines in certain other subjects,” he says.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012

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