HSC results 2022: Students miss much-needed thrill on ‘judgment day’

Most schools have done away with ranks and prefer to just award grades

Aditi AlurkarUpdated: Sunday, June 12, 2022, 11:52 PM IST
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The excitement associated with board exam performances was missing in this year’s HSC 2022 results declared on June 8. The upcoming SSC results too may feel ‘muzzled’. This has indeed been the case for a while now. Much of this is because the customary toppers’ list is missing. The list that divided the academically-brilliant from the rest of the pack used to provide the much-needed thrill on ‘judgment day’. Of course, toppers do get their day in the sun because newspaper reporters do take pains to seek them out and document their meritorious march but the examination board is not putting out merit lists, as it did before.

In fact, most schools have done away with ranks and prefer to just award grades.

While officials say that the pandemic brought on the low-key declaration style, more than a decade ago, in 2010, Board Chairperson Vijaysheela Sardesai had told the media that the change had come about to reduce the stress associated with these exams. It was done in order to merely recognise ‘excellence and performance’ and not ranks, Sardesai had said.

The Free Press Journal spoke to a cross-section of college principals, teachers and parents on how they feel about this new, toned-down system and whether they miss the old style of declaring who had made it to the merit list.

“A merit list is a platform for the capable and deserving to stand out from the rest. While worrying too much about creating a level playing field, we forget about the ones who work really hard,” says Sitalakshmi Konar, Adarsh English High School.

“Students already have options like the best of five subjects and moreover, examiners follow a very lenient marking scheme too. Though it helps those students who are struggling, it dampens the enthusiasm of those who are supposed to stand out.”

Deliberating on this change, Dr Anushree Lokur, Principal, Ruia College, says, “Personally, I am not in favour of such lists that place undue importance on marks. Though they do create a certain benchmark for other students, you cannot forget that many more skills exist beyond report cards.

“Though the harsh truth is that you cannot completely do away with such lists. Eventually, when it comes to competitive examinations, students do have to rely on their ranks to get admission into higher educational institutes,” she adds.

The students who made the cut, however, do not seem to mind topper lists. “I think, announcing who the toppers are makes students feel happy and acknowledged. Though one cannot take these too much to heart, as many students miss their ranks by a few decimal points,” says Ashlaisha Divekar, who ranked third in Jaihind College in the Arts stream.

“Ranks help us get a perspective - of who’s above us, who’s below us and where we are lacking,” feels Grisa Vora, a commerce student from Mithibai College.

Speaking about the mental well-being of students, Dr Mirchandani Dayal, a psychiatrist, says, “Students who score well in examinations often make the news, but those who feel discouraged and harm themselves after results, don’t.”

Providing context on the age group that appears for HSC exams, he said, “For many people, the brain does not really mature till they are 24-28 years of age. Putting 16-year-olds through such pressure and competitiveness seems unnecessary. At the HSC stage, students are only shown the two extremes of success and failure. In your 20s, many more options open up, which give you a wider perspective.”

Dr Dayal goes on to comment on today’s high demand-low supply educational world, saying, “These lists are carried forward from a time when education wasn’t centered around results. Back then, only a few were motivated to aspire for ranks and most were happy just to get into decent colleges.”

Professors in junior colleges have seen no particular difference in the approach of students, nor their parents, after the toppers’ list was discontinued. “Many colleges are revealing their topper lists, it’s just the district toppers that aren’t being declared. So it makes little difference,” says Prof. Shashank Joshi, Fergusson College, Pune.

“In either case, the presence or absence of a list does not make much difference because parents and students are more focused on competitive entrance exams and not board examinations. Entrances are now what admissions mainly depend upon,” he observes.

Parents seem to agree with the sentiment put forward by Prof. Joshi. “As a parent, I don’t give a lot of importance to HSC examination ranks. At this stage, most students are studying in their respective fields of arts, science and commerce, so an overall comparison is not possible,” says Heena Khatri, whose daughter appeared for her HSC exams this year.

“My daughter is studying for JEE and MHT CET, those are the exams we wish she scores well in,” Khatri says.

Even in the case of SSC results, soon to follow, the Maharashtra Board has not been issuing a toppers’ list.

“Students were already feeling discouraged this academic year,” says Kalpita Rele, a high school teacher in St Therese School.

Agreeing with the withholding of a toppers’ list that compares students, she says, “Some of them were expecting online exams and therefore, failed to perform up to the mark. Their writing skills also took a beating. Everyone had different home environments and not every student could catch up with online lectures.”

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