POSITION PAPER NATIONAL FOCUS G ROUP
POSITION PAPER NATIONAL FOCUS GROUP
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“Education is not the filling of a vessel but the kindling of a flame.” — Socrates Summary of key recommendations of the Focus Group on Exam Reforms on structural and procedural change. To be read in conjunction with its recommendations on reducing stress and anxiety among students. (Please note that some of the recommendations below – especially 1,2,4, 7 and 10 — also address the problem of student stress, anxiety and suicide.) 1) Institutions in each field (e.g engineering, law, medicine) co-ordinate with each other and design one entrance test applicable across the nation. A nodal agency at the national level is proposed for co-ordinating the testing schedule, ensuring security, and monitoring the timely release of rank-lists. This nodal agency should not, we emphasize, attempt to frame or grade the tests themselves. 2) Under no circumstances should board exams be extended to other grades such as the 11th, 8th and 5th – and news that some state boards have initiated such exams cause us grave apprehension. Indeed, it is our view that the tenth grade board exam be made optional forthwith. Tenth-graders who intend continuing in the eleventh grade at the same school, and do not need the board certificate for any immediate purpose, should be free to take a school-conducted exam instead of the board exam. 3) Now, with computerization of registration and grade reporting it is possible to present a wider range of performance parameters on the marksheet – absolute marks/grades, percentile rank among all candidates of that subject, and percentile rank among peers (e.g. schools in the same rural or urban block.) The last parameter, in particular, we believe to be a crucial test of merit. Making this information public will allow institutions of higher learning to take a more complex and relativist view of the notion of merit. 4) Requests for re-checks have declined dramatically in states like Kerala, Gujarat, J & K and Karnataka which have given students access to their answer papers (at a charge, of course) in either scanned or Xeroxed form. We laud the efforts of these and other states to...