The results of baseline test conducted for the first time for Class IX and X students of state schools under the Congress government’s ‘Padho Punjab, Padhao Punjab’ learning enhancement programme have revealed very poor learning levels in four subjects — English, mathematics, science and social science.
Baseline test is an exam conducted to assess the minimum learning level of students. While the test was conducted in March this year, results came out recently.
The state education department is blaming the ‘no-detention policy’ under Right to Education Act (RTE) due to which no student is detained or failed till Class VIII. As many as 1.65 lakh students of Class X and 2.18 lakh students of Class IX were tested in the baseline exam.
In mathematics, students were tested in mensuration, geometry, algebra and number system. Class IX students were given Class VII and VIII-level questions and Class X students were given Class VIII and IX-level questions to solve. Over 65 per cent students of Class IX failed to answer at least 15 of 23 questions.
At least 85 per cent students did not know curved surface area concept, 80 per cent could not get Pythagoras theorem, parallel lines and cube edge, 70 per cent could not solve rational numbers, 78 per cent could not solve number line and multiplication of algebra, 65 per cent could not solve fractions and so on. On an average, result of just 37.30 per cent students of Class IX were found to be satisfactory in maths.
Similarly, over 70 per cent students of Class X failed to answer 11 of 24 questions in maths. Seventy per cent student could not solve rational numbers, 79 per cent could not find out area of circle and volume of cube, 80 per cent could not do factorisation of algebra and 70 per cent failed in Pythagoras theorem. On an average, the result of just 45.04 per cent students of Class X were found to be satisfactory in maths.
Nirmal Kaur, coordinator for maths, said, “Both Class IX and X students have shown poor results in baseline test even as they were tested in lower-level syllabus. The results have highlighted poor basics, which is due to many reasons, including no-detention policy till Class VIII. There is also maths-phobia among students, which we are working on.”
In English, students were tested in basic writing, speaking, listening and reading, and questions were same for Classes IX and X students. In writing, students were given the topic ‘My Favourite Game’ and asked to write just five sentences on it, but 72 per cent students of Class IX and X either did not attempt it or wrote just one or two sentences, that too with grammatical or spelling errors. Twenty one per cent students wrote three-four sentences and only seven per cent could write all five. Fifty-eight per cent of Class IX and X students could not answer all five basic questions after listening to an audio clip. They either did not attempt or answered wrong or answered just two questions correctly.
In speaking test, 59 per cent students failed to answer five questions after seeing a picture and in reading test, 49 per cent failed to read a paragraph and answer all five questions thereafter.
In social science, there were twenty multiple-choice questions, mostly from general knowledge, in which many students failed to answer some basic ones too like – capital city of China, meaning of ‘Punjab’, period of Green Revolution, first woman Chief Minister of the state, number of articles in the Constitution of India, smallest district of Punjab etc. Forty six per cent of Class IX students could not tell what the capital city of China is, 51 per cent failed in answering about the Green Revolution period and 64 per cent did not know who wrote the song ‘Saare Jahaan Se Achha’.
In Class X, 60 per cent students did not know who wrote ‘Saare Jahaan Se Achha’ and 41 per cent did not know who was the first woman Chief Minister of Punjab. Similarly, 42 per cent class IX students also did not know who was first woman CM of Punjab. Many marked Harsimrat Kaur Badal as the right answer for Punjab’s first woman Chief Minister.
In science, students were tested in vocabulary, reasoning and observation-based questions. The average score of Class X students came out at 41.91 per cent only. They performed the worst in reasoning, for which their average stood at 32.59 per cent only. Even for vocabulary and observation questions, it was just 43.74 per cent and 46.30 per cent only, respectively. Class IX results were even poorer and overall average score stood at 40.45 per cent only. Here too, the worst was in reasoning (27 per cent), followed by vocabulary (45 per cent) and observation (44 per cent).
Krishan Kumar, Punjab secretary school education said no-detention policy till Class VIII is the culprit. “We were doing very good till we had board exams for Classes V and VIII. Even teachers hesitated to get posting in senior secondary schools knowing they have to teach basics to Class IX and X students. Baseline tests under Padho Punjab, Padhao Punjab aims to fix accountability by identifying weak areas of students,” he said.