Friday, August 18, 2006

Towards a better system of scholastic evaluation

Marks, marks & marks! Isn’t that all that both parents and students yearn for? But sadly, how unsatisfactory are marks alone, when used as a yardstick to assess a student’s scholastic performance. Shouldn’t we have a better system of evaluation to assess true knowledge?

The current evaluation system of just having one exam has to be revamped. It is disheartening to see parents telling their children repeatedly to score above 90%.
Scoring the maximum does not imply that the student exhibits a good knowledge of the subject. And marks should not serve as a criterion for comparison among students. Parents often compare the marks of their children with other students, which often make the child depressed. This unfair comparison has been aggravated by the media in lauding the best performers in the board exams. This makes the students who have not been included in the top performers’ list feel dejected. Apart from this, fierce competition takes place among the schools also for maximum ranks and 100% pass in the board exams.

In the recent years, the state of Kerala has introduced the ranking system for its tenth board exams (SSLC). This is a welcome step in the education sector. Although some parents and students criticise the ranking method, it has got its own advantages and disadvantages. It reduces the minute comparisons which are taking place but it’s still based on a single exam. It will be more welcomed by the students because comparisons based on unit marks will not take place. To take an example, it is not right to say that a person who has scored 80% is brighter than a person who scored 75%. The ranking system places both these students in a single category.

I have another alternative to put forth. My suggestion is to divide the total marks of 100% into four parts; 25% for surprise tests, 25% for an original study done on a related topic in the subject, 25% for an oral test and finally 25% for the standard written exam. The surprise tests ensure marks to the student who reads regularly and commands good knowledge of the subject. Those students who read extensively and can write well are rewarded in the project. Students who can communicate better orally can score well in the oral tests. And finally those students, who are adept in learning by rote, would score well in the written exam only. And after the marks are calculated, use the ranking system.

This would ensure a fair degree of fairness into the evaluation system which aptly rewards the capabilities of different students from diverse backgrounds.


quills said...

I think it is only in Kerala that we see such sickeningly high state of competition among some parents (more so than among kids) when it comes to studies. I remember back in school, during regular quarterly exams, both parents of a child, coming during the lunch hour, to help her prep for the afternoon exam. So the typical scene, was the kid sitting with a bewildered look under a nice shady tree, with one parent shoving in food, and the other one shoving in knowledge or trying to anyway. :) And the constant need to perform one better over the neighbor's kids, must be intimidating as well as highly demotivating.

Good post Alex!

Mind Curry said...

welcome to DOC!

this one is a very different post and quite a welcome change from the usual mess that we discuss here..on second thoughts, this is also about the messed up education system, but nonetheless slightly less disgusting perhaps.

the mark-frenzy of parents of kerala are turning the new generation into weird specimens if i may say so. typical all work and no play making jack a duller. and i absolutely agree about the marks and quality mismatch. i think its high time the kerala folks know there are better ways of living life than as a doc or engineer!

p.s. i am not too knowledgeable about the education ranking systems, but i am glad i passed out of my school before someone like you brought in the ranking system you propose!

25% for surprise tests....The surprise tests ensure marks to the student who reads regularly and commands good knowledge of the subject
i stand no chance!!!!!!!!


good one alex!

silverine said...

That was a brilliant solution Alex..will keep the students on their toes,does away with cramming and gives a fair chance to children who can write well as well as children who may be better in orals than in written tests. Good post!!!

Alex said...

Thanks a lot Quills, Mindcurry and Silverine for your encouraging words.

People here in Kerala feel that there is no other profession worthy of taking up other that a doctor or engineer. If one takes up Commerce or Humanities, then they assume that its either because of low marks or because he/she has no interest in studies.

What a pity! In fact taking up Humanities and then going for research requires more hardwork than engineering.

Moreover, teachers in schools are not respected vis-a-vis a doctor or an engineer.(And seldom do we find students going for engineering becoming an engineer.)

When will people realise that every job or profession commands its own respect?

Sarah said...

My prf once told me "Exams are meant to test, how good the teacher is in teaching the subject"..
As someone who wrote the SSLC and suffered the nightmares associated with it, I would like to ask
"Do we really need exams and grading?"
Would exams help the kids in any way?

Babin said...

We have to make education as flexible, as inclusive, as diverse and less stressful to students as possible.
I have experienced both of these education system. SSLC with 100% exam score and an american system
with final score made up of 30% exam, 20% project, 10% project presentation, 10% pop quizzes, 20% HomeWork, 10% class participation, etc as Alex is suggesting. I could tell in a heart beat the later format is much superior.

My biggest complaint about SSLC syllabus is that it is very ineffective in developing students reading, writing or communication skills. I feel primary education should mainly focus on these elements.
Great post Alex. I completly agree with you.

Ralminov റാല്‍മിനോവ് said...

Nice post. But we were the beneficieries of the existing system.I had a CBSE education without ranks, only grades. We have to think also why we are better than our US counterparts !!!
I think no examination/test is greater than writing our 10th Std. If we could "pass" this test, we can succeed anywhere !!!

Jiby said...

alex, very good topic you have put forward for us to ponder about and a good solution too.

i guess the meaningless of the current grading mechanism must have victimised many of us in our school days...i was a poor student and what lifted me up from what i thought was my low prospects in life was mine and many of my friends total rebellion towards this system.

i see change happening slowly but steadily...the high school cbse textbooks which i had to do as basic reading for my upsc exam was a sea change from the verbose and intimidating icse science books i had to study at school...more than theory emphasis was on doing simple experiments to understand science better!

finally like u said exams need to be better structured...currently emphasis is only on the final exams and nothing else done in the academic year matters!

Alex said...

Teaching in the state of Kerala and elsewhere has to witness structural changes too.
At present, History is taught like a very boring subject, instead there ought to be more study tours where students get to see historic monuments.
Teaching needs to extend its medium of just the black board. In schools which it is possible, movie clips, slide shows, guest lectures, just like in good collges should be the medium as an aid to the black board.
This can increase the realm of such subjects.
In kerala, social science subjects are looked down upon by the populace. We need a balanced growth of academicians, engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc.
The growth should not be lop sided.

Jina said...

One day..
Some day...the kids can sleep happily before a day of an exam..
go coolly to skool during result time..

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

the evaluatory system in kerala is terrible- guess it's no different in other states too. the exams are so predicatable. the need to achieve a certain level of pass causeS the recommend ridiculous levels of moderation.
as long as we have affiliatory system in college, and a centralised board at school level, and incompetent teacers and politicising of every issue related to education reform, nothing much can be done.

any way , it is encouraging to think that you guys are thinking about these things.

but i have a question - an important one . despite the skewed system we have in india/kerala, how come our students do so superbly well in the best universities in the world, starting from securing scholarships to incredible performance in academics. AFTER ALL THE SYSTEM CANNOT BE ALL THAT USELESS!!!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post and excellent idea.Yes education today is becoming compariosn of pure book knowledge.This have to be done from primary education.Such innovative ideas have been put forward before also by intellectuals but anuable to implement.Of course the nature of parents' competition is a concern.Parents should realise that more than the children acheiving good marks , how they can make use of those bookish knowledge in life is what matters.
There are children who gets 60s , 70s in written exam but has extensive knowledge when we ask them what it is..Also most of the subjects we have to give exact bookish sentences , which makes students to by heart more rather than understand what they are by hearting .
Anyway congrats for this excellent post

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