The schools hold the key to the final marksheet unlike previous years when CBSE was directly responsible for this process.
As instructed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), schools will now have to pick up the mantle of setting scores for the Class 12 board exam 2021 for their students.
Since the Class 12 board exams could not be held because of the pandemic, CBSE said that the performance of students in Class 10, 11 and 12 would be taken into account in the final score.
Here, the schools hold the key to the final marksheet unlike previous year, when a student’s performance depended entirely on the board exam.
"There is suddenly a lot of pressure on schools. Everything from marks tabulation in internal assessment to normalisation is on us. We do understand that students are worried but we will mark as per our usual system," said Priya Kumar Chatterjee, principal at Bal Vidyalaya in Kolkata.
The historical performance of the school in the previous three years' board examination will be taken as reference for moderating the marks assessed by the school in 2020-21.
For each subject, the school will have to follow a broad distribution of marks based on the performance of the school in a specific year in that subject.
What are the concerns?
Students and parents told Moneycontrol that the normalisation of scores would mean that candidates who stand out with their performance will still be marked similar to the others.
"There have been multiple instances where a few students have outperformed in the school. Why should the scores be standardised? Individual student performance needs to be taken into account," said Vinita Tripathi, the parent of a CBSE Class 12 student in Mumbai.
Tripathi added that while there is an option to write exams at a future date to improve the scores, it won't be feasible considering COVID-19.
In case data is available for schools only for two years, then the average of the past two years will be taken.
For schools that are newly set-up, there could be other concerns. CBSE has said the board would provide historical data of other schools in this category (independent, Kendriya Vidyalaya, aided, government schools etc) including the national averages of the past three years.
Eighteen-year-old Prateek Dasgupta switched from a different board to CBSE in Class 11. Dasgupta is now worried how his Class 10 performance will be assessed.
"I studied in the West Bengal state board where the marking system is considered among the toughest in the country. Now, my worry is that my Class 10 scores will be brought down by the normalisation. This is unfair considering that the assessment process by the state board was far stringent," he added.
Each school has to set up a results committee that will overlook this entire process of assessment. There will be an online system where schools can enter their data to check if this confirms with the historical distribution of marks by CBSE.
In case there is a mismatch, the results committee will re-evaluate the marks. For each subject, there will be a built-in system for verification.
Another area of concern is when students have shifted from one subject to another between Class 11 and 12. Schools have to take an average by assessing the best three subjects in Class 11.
Schools and students are of the view that there could be discrepancies in this system.
Radhika Choudhary, vice principal at Laxmi Mahavidyalaya in Jalandhar said that students often switch streams due to lack of aptitude in a few subjects.
"We usually hold an aptitude test internally to check if a student is fit to switch into another stream. I am of the view that the performance in those tests should be taken into account rather than average of the best three," she added.
Students hold a similar view. Aamir Siddiqui, an 18-year-old Class 12 student in Hyderabad switched from Science to Humanities. Siddiqui said that this was because he could not cope with Physics and Mathematics in Class 11.
Siddiqui is now worried that if an average of the best three subjects in Class 11 is taken for him, his scores would automatically drop to below 60 percent.
"I had scored above 75 percent in all subjects in the term exams and internal assessments of Class 12. When board exams only assess based on a particular set of exams, why should my Class 11 marks be taken into account," he questioned.
What is the way forward?
Schools are presently busy with setting up a results committee to assess the students. It is likely that there could be confusion in the marking system, since this is being done for the first time ever by CBSE.
A board official told Moneycontrol that CBSE would be able to hand-hold schools through the entire process.
"The aim is to ensure that no school gets an unfair advantage by lenient marking. Hence, we will be setting up an online platform to remove any inconsistencies," the official added.
In cases of doubt, officials from CBSE could also be deployed to individual schools to re-verify the marking scheme. Considering that CBSE has declared that Class 12 results will be declared by July 31, the anxious period for students continues.