With changes to 80-20 assessment format, tough times ahead for students

This year, lakhs of HSC students who appeared for the board exam had a reason to rejoice, as the newly introduced 80-20 assessment format helped a record 90.03 per cent of them clear the exams. But future batches hoping to repeat this success may be in for a harder time, with the education department proposing tougher standards in the assessment system.

Also read: The real reason behind historic HSC results...

mid-day’s report
mid-day’s report on June 3

In an earlier report (The real reason behind historic HSC results, June 3), mid-day had pointed out that although the state board had achieved an all-time high with the HSC results, it didn’t point to the effectiveness of its curriculum or teaching methods. Instead, it revealed a glaring flaw in the 80-20 plan that divides students’ final marks into 20 marks for internal assessment and 80 marks in a written examination. With many colleges awarding high, and even full marks in the internal section, in order to score the minimum passing percentage, a student would simply have to scrape 15 out of 80 marks in the final exam.

State Education Secretary, Ashwini Bhide hinted on Tuesday that the issue could be fixed from the 2015 exams onwards, with a proposal to introduce compulsory passing marks for both sections separately. It was the lack of this very criterion that had created the loophole in the system.

“From next year’s board exams, separate passing (in internal and written exams) will become essential. Everybody in my department is positive about it. Now we have placed it before the government for approval,” Bhide said.

It should be noted that the Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education (MSBSHSE) had already sent a similar proposal to the government last year itself, but the proposal is yet to be approved.

Asked why the proposal was being held for so long, Bhide said, “Before making any new policy decision, we have to consider the lakhs of students who appear for board exams and their concerns. But my department is firm that we will not compromise on the quality of education.”

State Education Commissioner S Chockalingam also suggested that the word be spread, so that students and parents are made aware of the likely changes as soon as possible.

Initiatives for girls

State Education Secretary Ashwini Bhide also mentioned two major initiatives that would be undertaken to help female school students in Maharashtra. Not only will the state launch a special programme to minimise the female dropout ratio, it would also address the lack of girls’ toilets in schools across 10 districts. “There are total 10 districts including Gadchiroli, Nandurbar and Ahmednagar, which face this particular problem. There are some local issues like lack of space or lack of plans for a toilet block during the school building’s construction. For three districts no funds are available to build toilets. Once the monsoon is over all these issues will be sorted out and the remaining 3 per cent schools that do not have toilet facilities will be equipped with them,” she said.

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