In schools, the no-fail policy may have failed. What now?

The Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) on Wednesday made a strong pitch for scrapping the no-detention policy for Classes I to VIII, along with bringing back board exams in Class X.

Written by Ruhi Tewari | New Delhi | Updated: August 21, 2015 8:10 am
no-detention policy, CBSE students, Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation, CCE, RTE Act, HRD Ministry, Central Advisory Board of Education, india news, news The no-detention policy in classes was implemented as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) under the RTE Act (Express photo)

What is the no-detention policy?
No student up to Class VIII can be detained or failed. All students up to Class VIII are automatically promoted to the next class.

What is the Class X Board exams policy?
Exams are optional for all CBSE students. They have the option of choosing between school-based exams and Board-based ones. Those opting for the former appear for the exams in their own school; those choosing the latter go to an allotted centre. Answersheets of Board-conducted exams are centrally evaluated at designated centres; those of school-based examinees are checked by teachers of the school. Students who opt for school-based exams can be at a disadvantage if changing schools for Class XI.

When were these implemented? Why?
The no-detention policy was implemented as part of the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) under the RTE Act in 2010 to ensure holistic development of students. The idea was also to reduce dropout rates. Several states already had no-detention policies. Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation emphasises on evaluating a child through the year, and not just based on performance in one or two term exams. HRD Minister Kapil Sibal had made Board exams optional in 2011 to cut stress.

Also read: ‘Broad consensus’ on scrapping no-detention policy, says Central Advisory Board of Education

What is wrong with the no-fail policy?
A section of teachers and parents have complained that this policy has led to students developing a lackadaisical attitude, with there being no risk of failing. They also say this system makes no distinction between good and bad students, and between those who work hard and those who don’t. Some states have demanded revocation of the policy, claiming this has led to a sharp fall in learning outcomes and academic levels.

What has been the official view?
A sub-committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education on no-detention was constituted in 2012 under then Haryana Education Minister Geeta Bhukkal. The committee pitched for the return of detention in a phased manner. “We need to stop, re-assess and then move forward. At this stage, it would be prudent to reiterate the need for assessment of the learning outcomes, and make it consequential by linking it to promotion or otherwise to the next class beyond grade 5,” the committee said in its report.

The committee argued that this had led to a decline in learning outcomes. “Rather, the LLOs (Learning Level Outcomes) have steeply come down right from the academic sessions 2010-11 to 2013-14. The declining LLOs clearly reflect that there is something drastically wrong with the policy and system, which need to be remedied,” it said.

What is the HRD Ministry’s stand?
At a meeting of CABE — the top body advising the government on education — chaired by HRD Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday, a broad consensus on scrapping the no-detention policy emerged. There was also a pitch for bringing back the Class X exams. The Ministry has asked all states to give their views within 15 days, following which the process of making changes may begin.

How can these policies be reversed?
Revoking the no-detention policy will require an amendment to the RTE Act. The Class X Board examination can be re-introduced through an executive order.

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