Indore: CBSE Schools In Quandary Over Bi-Annual Board Exams

Indore: CBSE Schools In Quandary Over Bi-Annual Board Exams

Syllabus completion, infrastructure, conflicting pattern, other challenges…

Tina KhatriUpdated: Friday, February 23, 2024, 11:39 PM IST
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Indore: CBSE Schools In Quandary Over Bi-Annual Board Exams | Representational image

Indore (Madhya Pradesh): Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools are in a quandary as they must plan the upcoming academic session 2024-25 in a way that the syllabus is completed by November when the first board exam is scheduled to be held, provide infrastructure, allot invigilators, manage other classes and implement the new pattern of bi-annual board examinations.

Following the change as per National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, students of Classes 10 and 12 can sit for board examinations twice a year, starting from the next academic year. The change is part of the NEP introduced in 2020 that aims to reduce academic stress on students.

While in theory, it seems like a great idea to conduct two board examinations, there are real-time challenges on which the board is brainstorming with affiliated schools and educationists.

Time challenge: First board exam in November

“Two attempts for board examinations are definitely helpful for stressed students, but there’s a catch: The first board exam must be conducted in November-December,” Isabel Swamy, chairperson of Indore Sahodaya Complex of CBSE schools, said. Students wishing to just attempt the first exam must complete their syllabus by November and perform well-enough to get into college.

“Hence, it seems that most students will have to attempt the board exam in February-March, but they can have a trial board exam in November,” Swamy said.

First can’t be final & trial comes with a cost

“While the board examination conducted in November might be a preparatory exam for most students, it will involve exam fees like a normal exam,” Manoj Bajpai, a school principal, said. Students attempting competitive exams would prefer it if they could just complete the syllabus and score well in the first board exam in November, but it seems difficult, he added.

While many schools conducted Class 9 and Class 11 exams by Feb-March and started new sessions, CBSE earlier issued a notice stating that schools cannot start the new academic year before April 1.

Hence, starting April followed by summer vacation, schools must be able to complete the syllabus in six months. “Completing the entire syllabus in 6 months is not a very realistic idea, because students must be prepared to attempt board exams based on Class 9 & Class 10 syllabuses in Class 10 and likewise Class 11 & Class 12 syllabuses in Class 12 board exams,” Bajpai said.

Infrastructure & Invigilators’ challenge

While there are some schools with several buildings and large infrastructure, many schools have basic infrastructure meeting CBSE by-laws criteria. The school's infrastructure is shared by all classes, i.e. Class 1 to Class 12.

“When we have board examinations, then we try to allot the schools’ campus exclusively for board exams to keep a check on cheating,” Dr Anju Chopra, school principal, said. As per CBSE, an examination centre shall be created subject to availability of bank/treasury facilities for the safe custody of question papers etc. as per the requirement of the board.

“Hence, setting up the school as an examination centre in November will affect other classes and our schedules a lot,” Chopra said.

Concerned about Open Book exams... in November

“CBSE has suggested open-book exams for Classes 9 to 12. A pilot run has been planned for November. Open Book exams are good for developing independence, problem-solving skills and more, but one exam on this pattern and another following a traditional exam might create confusion," educationist UK Jha said.

The idea behind the bi-annual exam was to reduce stress and give students two chances at the exam. "In the long-term, the pattern could work out, but initially, designing such an exam would be a challenge for educators," Jha said. For students, it would be a challenge to prepare and gain the skills for both styles of learning, he added.

"It would be more difficult for students attempting competitive exams, as they are usually dealing with two different patterns of exams: board exams and competitive exams," Jha said. Parents must understand this situation, focus on student's learning and provide a drop year to children for entrance exam preparation.

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