In December 2016, the CBSE board passed a resolution mandating schools implement the single exam Grade 10 Board Examination from 2018. This will directly affect all CBSE students currently in Grade 9, who will move to Grade 10 in April 2017.
In a nutshell the new CBSE board Grade 10 assessments are awarded after one single exam per subject. The singe exam tests a student's knowledge on 100 percent of the coursework and students MUST achieve 33 percent in each subject to pass.
Previously, Grade 10 students experienced a system of continuous evaluation throughout the academic year called the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) for each subject. The old assessments were carried out termly and schools could choose between either CBSE board or internal 'self-assessments'.
However, the new system will mean students sit a single exam per subject at the end of Grade 10, each exam will be conducted ONLY by the CBSE board and will constitute 80 of the total marks. A further 20 marks will be awarded by the school in self-assessment.
Differences in more detail
Internal (self-assessment) Testing
A total of 20 marks can be achieved in this component via periodic tests, notebook submissions and subject enrichment activities. Students MUST achieve 33 percent of the total 20 marks in this component of the assessment.
The Periodic Tests (10 marks): According to the CBSE board circular, “the school should conduct three periodic written tests in the entire academic year and the average of the best two will be taken. Schools have the autonomy to make their own schedule. However, for the purpose of gradient learning, three tests may be held, one being the mid-term test and the other two a pre mid and post mid-term with portion of syllabus cumulatively covered. The gradually increasing portion of content would prepare students and give them the confidence to sit Board examination with 100% of the syllabus. The school will take an average of the best two tests for final marks submission."
Notebook submission (5 marks): "Part of [the] internal assessment [and] aimed at enhancing seriousness of students towards preparing notes for the topics being taught in the classroom as well as assignments. This also addresses the critical aspect of regularity, punctuality, neatness and notebook upkeep."
Subject Enrichment Activity (5 marks): This component involves speaking and listening activities for languages subjects, lab work for science subjects and project work for social science.
According to Asma Gilani, principal at Our Own English School (girls) Sharjah (OOEHS), these changes were not much of a surprise. "Of course, some form of change was expected… it was well known that all the stake holders felt there was a quantum jump in the curriculum and mode of assessments from grade 10 to grade 11.”
Gilani believes the changes are largely positive, arguing “the new system ensures smooth transition from grade 10 to grade 11 and more transparency and accountability in evaluation.” However, it will also require schools "provide students with more learning strategies, information retention and retrieval techniques.
“We will also have to be more cautious with the quality of teaching, learning to [better] monitor progress and attainment in class to ensure teaching learning and assessment are in sync.”
Critics of the change have been quick to highlight the possible disadvantages the first batch of Grade 10 students may experience. They will not only be the first to actually experience the new exam, but also the adapted teaching styles required to prepare them for it.
Students are undeniably at a risk Gilani agrees since they are not trained to write a public exam on a full year’s syllabus. "We will have to coach them in effective time management skills and take them through the rigours of a board exam.
Teachers meanwhile will have a mammoth task "to sustain good attainment which could impact a school's inspection rating".
For successive grades, life will become easier, as the CBSE board has allowed affiliated schools to make changes to the assessments across Grades six to nine, to bring them into line with those of Grade 10.
Affiliated schools are permitted “for the purpose of uniformity” to change the assessment model currently used in Grades six to nine, to mirror that of the new Grade 10 examination. CBSE circular
Advice for parents
For parents “acceptance is the key!” according to Gilani. “Parents need to keep pace with the school, to know, believe and act upon the positive assumption that the students will be more confident to face the world of tomorrow.”
"There is nothing to fear if we move forward with the conviction that more interest, more concentration, persistence and perseverance in efforts are all that is required to drive increased skills.
"As educators we are striving to provide a strong foothold to our children to be at the forefront of progress, and not stand still and left behind.”