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8 Jun 2017

Board exam for Class V & VIII - ICSE aims at teacher assessment

TT, June 7: The ICSE council will conduct exams for the students of classes V and VIII primarily to assess the performance of the teachers, a decision that has been both hailed and slammed by the academic community, parents and doctors. 
The questions for the exams, to be held alongside the schools' annual exams, will be set by the board and the answer scripts will be evaluated by neutral or external examiners, an official of the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations, which conducts the ICSE and ISC exams, said today. 
The performance in the council's exam, however, will not have any bearing on a student's promotion to the next class. 
The exam for the Class V students will make its debut in November or December next year, to be followed by the one for the Class VIII pupils.
"The council has decided to introduce a system of assessing ICSE students in classes V and VIII by means of centralised board exams which will be conducted by the council in four subjects - English, mathematics, science (including physics, chemistry and biology) and social studies (including history, civics and geography)," said Gerry Arathoon, the chief executive and secretary of the council.
"We will hold written tests but the assessment will be different from the Class X and XII exams.... Students will not need any preparation. They will not have to recall what they have learnt. Instead, they will be required to apply their knowledge and skills to solving problems. They will need to think creatively according to their age."
The council secretary asserted that the exams would not add to the stress burden of the students.
A unique feature of the tests, council officials pointed out, is that the teachers will be assessed, too. If the average score of the students in a class in, say, English is poor, the teacher concerned will also be awarded low marks.
"The primary objective is to assess how the students are being taught. Each of our student is expected to acquire a certain level of knowledge and reasoning ability at every stage. We want to see whether the students have reached the desired levels in Class V and Class VIII," said Arathoon.
The council, the secretary pointed out, will suggest "remedial measures" to schools whose students will be found wanting.
Officials said the assessment of the students at the lower levels had become more important following the introduction of a common syllabus from Nursery to Class VIII.
Arathoon said the council had made it mandatory for all affiliated schools to follow its curriculum from Nursery to Class VIII from next year.
In the current system, the council curriculum has to be followed only from Class IX.
The council will organise training programmes for the teachers in order to ensure they are not inconvenienced by the new system. "It will be mandatory for every teacher to undergo the training, which will be extensive," Arathoon said.
The council's announcement, however, was greeted with both bouquets and brickbats.
Some teachers of reputable ICSE schools welcomed the move, saying it would help prepare the students better for the public exams they will write later on. "Students will no longer be scared to face the X or XII boards," a teacher said.
Some, however, think the council exams will only increase the stress level of the students. "The exams will be too frequent for children and we cannot deny that every board exam in India has a connotation of stress. Why can't it be addressed at the school level without the council conducting a centralised exam?" wondered psychiatrist Jai Ranjan Ram.
More changes
The council will introduce yoga and performing arts as compulsory subjects in classes I to VIII. "The subjects will be introduced from the 2018-19 academic year," Arathoon said.
Besides, the ICSE schools will offer Sanskrit as an optional third language from classes V to VIII.

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