A majority of school teachers across the city, who are busy checking exam papers, say that the open text-based assessment (OTBA) system introduced by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) last year is bringing down the over all percentage for every student.
The 2013-14 academic session was the first one where students of Classes IX and XI took this exam where a section worth 10 marks included high order thinking skills questions that requires students to analyse situations given in a report or draw conclusions from those. Teachers marking the papers say students are not used to question papers where they have to read four pages before answering a question. Students who are fond of reading and understanding score well.
A teacher at Saupin’s School said, “It is like giving a student an unseen passage to do. The students are provided study material along with the question paper and asked to find answers from within. Mathematics seems to be more problematic as there are two set of questions, three marks for value- based question that are easy, while seven marks are for questions based on calculations, which majority of the students could not solve. This is the last question and an extra 30 minutes are given to them. But the question itself is quite lengthy. It will not benefit students in any way.”
Some teachers, however, are calling this system a progressive concept that will help students come out of the rote learning culture.
Amarbir Singh Sandhu, principal of Saupin’s School said, “OTBA is something which the CBSE should have introduced much earlier. It will help develop high order thinking skills. Finding out answers for ourselves is more useful than just writing it down after cramming. I am sure there will be no resentment against this system as it would benefit every student. It will take time for parents and teachers to accept this new way of assessment.”
CBSE Regional Officer R J Khanderao, however, said, “CBSE introduced this system after a study analysis showed that students can be made to apply their abilities of creative thinking and to further express their ideologies by answering tricky questions. The OTBA system is at present at the preliminary stage, which is why we have asked for feedback from all affiliated schools. On the basis of the feedback, the board might initiate steps to extend the system for other classes as well. Every school is supposed to send their feedback by March 25.”
Saji Jacob, principal of St Mary’s School in Sector 46 said, “I think CBSE should have conducted some orientation programmes for the teachers before introducing this system. Though the OTBA will consist of only 10 marks in the entire question paper, those 10 marks are equally important.
He added this system will not benefit those students who have a habit of mugging answers as they will not be able to apply their minds.