While students, parents and other stakeholders can currently gauge the quality status of a college through their assessment grades, which are given by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, they will soon be able to do so for schools in Maharashtra. The state has now constituted a group that which will recommend the norms and standards for a State Assessment and Accreditation Council (SAAC), an independent agency, a step that has come after considerable delay. The idea to introduce such an assessment and accreditation body was first mooted in 2013.
The evaluation, which will include state board, ICSE, CBSE and IB schools, is expected to be grade based. The NAAC currently follows the grading pattern, in which colleges are given grades in four categories A, B, C and D, denoting very good, satisfactory and unsatisfactory levels respectively.
The SAAC will set benchmarks and evaluate schools based on curriculum, teaching-learning process, evaluation, faculty, infrastructure, learning resources, organisation, governance, financial well-being and student services, among others.
“We have been waiting for such an assessment scheme for some years now. It will enable schools to understand their strengths and weaknesses. There will be specific benchmarks and schools will know where they have to reach,” said Najma Qazi, principal of Anjuman Islam Saif Tyabji Girls High School (Byculla).
The state has set up a study group comprising 16 members and a working group with 11 members, which will develop the SAAC manual, propose standards and help in implementation. The study group has been asked to look at systems and standards currently in existence, including NAAC and take into consideration the number of schools in the state, medium of instruction, location and financial status. The committee will also have to detail constitution, powers and functions of SAAC.
“Parents have welcomed the move. Many of them told me that since they are paying high fees, such a move to evaluate and grade them will help them know if it’s worth the money they are paying. There will definitely be control over the quality of education being imparted,” said president of the Parents’ Teachers’ Association (PTA) United Forum Arundhati Chavan, who is a member of the SAAC study group.