A circular sent by CBSE to schools on Friday, giving instructions on open-book assessment for their students in class IX and class XI, has elicited much interest among teachers and students.

The open-book examination would be implemented in the form of ‘open case study-based approach’ for classes XI and XII. This, according to the CBSE, will help in incorporating analytical and theoretical skills among students, and thereby reduce dependency on memorising study material.

For class IX students, the test will be applicable to 15-20 per cent of the question papers for all main subjects, and will be a part of summative assessment II to be held in March, 2014. And for class XI students, it will be introduced for economics, geography and biology, and will be part of the annual exams.

The circular says schools will supplied with textual material in the form of an article, a case study, a diagram, a concept/mind map, a picture or a cartoon and problems/situations based on concepts taken from the syllabi.

Many teachers, however, feel there is a need for more clarity in the conducting and evaluating of these tests, and it would only increase the burden on students of class IX and XI whose marks are carried to the Boards.

“What are the creative questions or high-order thinking questions that we are suppose to come up with? The Board should give us more briefings and workshops on how to conduct such tests, because the questions here won’t be direct, and will have to be intelligent,” said Anjali Ramachandran, a biology teacher.

V. Suma Padmanabhan, principal, Asan Memorial Senior Secondary School, said the initiative could lead to more pressure on students. “Class XI especially is very critical. I am not sure if it is the time to tie them with these tests. What do we do if a student doesn’t do well in these tests? Also, the methods of evaluation are not very clear,” she said.

Others however, welcome the move. “It is a good thing that students will be encouraged to read the text books now. Most of them just listen to teachers and rely on notes. This will teach them to browse intelligently and look for what is asked,” said Padmini Sriram, principal, Hindu SSS.

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