In a bid to relieve pressure on students, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has announced that students who do not wish to pursue mathematics at the senior secondary level will be able to opt for a simpler question paper in the Class X board examinations from 2020 onward.
In a circular issued on Friday, the board announced that two levels of mathematics examinations will be held for the Class X boards — Mathematics Standard, which will be equivalent to the existing examination, and Mathematics Basic, which will be an easier paper.
The change will only be in the board examination question paper—the syllabus, classroom teaching and internal assessment for both levels will remain the same.“The only difference will be in the framing of the question paper; the topics tested will be the same. The questions in the standard paper will require more application, analysis and conceptual understanding. The basic paper will be oriented more towards understanding and will require less high order thinking skills,” said Director (Examination) Dr Joseph Emmanuel.
Students who opt for the Mathematics Basic paper will not be allowed to opt for mathematics as a subject at the senior secondary level. According to the CBSE circular, a student will be able to choose their level of examination when the affiliated school submits the ‘list of candidates’ to the board, a few months before the examination. However, if a student who chooses Mathematics Basic changes his mind later and wishes to pursue mathematics at the senior secondary level, he will be given the option to take the Mathematics Standard examination during the compartment exams.
In introducing this initiative, the board cited the Position Paper on Examination Reform by the National Focus Group, which is part of the National Curriculum Framework, 2005 and emphasises on the need for flexibility in assessment of different kinds of learners.
“Just as we allow students and schools some element of choice in the choosing of their subjects, they should have the choice of picking one of two levels within that subject… Not only would the above reform cater for different kinds of learners and allow different levels of testing, it would also reduce overall student stress levels,” reads the position paper. It further states that this will go on to “improve the overall pass rate” in subjects with low pass percentages, such as mathematics and English.
The position paper advocates this reform for every subject, and according to Dr Emmanuel, the board will consider the possibilities of extending it to other subjects based on the progress made with mathematics. “Mathematics is a subject in which a lot of students fail, and we get the maximum number of representations regarding it after the examination. Further, 15 lakh students appear in the examination every year, and only between 3-5 lakh opt for mathematics after that. There is no point in stressing them out needlessly,” he said.