The Department of Primary and Secondary Education has decided to conduct periodic assessments for Class 10 (SSLC) and Class 12 (II PU) students in the 2021-22 academic year.

At the press conference, Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said they would conduct a detailed assessment exercise this academic year and introduce “innovative reforms”. Class 10 and 12 students from national boards have regular tests and projects that can be used to assess their grades in the absence of a final exam. Schools following the State syllabus usually conduct four formative assessments and two summative assessments, but for the 2020-21 academic year the department had directed them to conduct only two formative assessments for Class 10 students. While some private schools were able to hold all six assessments online, many, especially government schools, could not conduct even a single assessment for the academic year.

Pre-university students in the State board also do not have continuous assessments to fall back on. As a result, education officials are in a quandary over grading students for 2020-21. This is one of the reasons the department is hoping to conduct two papers in a Multiple Choice Question format for SSLC students, while II PU students will be assessed on their performance in the first year.

Elaborating on the decision to devise a continuous and comprehensive evaluation method for PU students, Snehal R., Director of the Department of Pre-University Education, said, “This academic year, there will be mandatory assessments. We want to conduct an assessment at the end of every chapter and a larger assessment once every quarter. However, our academic team is still working out the modalities.”

To bring uniformity to the assessment process, the department plans to send SMS directly to students about their performance in the tests. However, with health experts predicting that a third wave of COVID-19 in October will put children at risk, officials are exploring different options if they are unable to conduct offline assessments.

Niranjanaradhya V.P., senior fellow at the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University, is critical of the government’s “obsession with assessments”, which he termed outdated. “The department needs to focus on the process of learning and bring in a blended approach for using offline and online tools. If the learning model is strong, assessment will be taken care of automatically,” he said.

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