The Central Board of Secondary Education, the country’s biggest school board, has decided that extra marks given to Class 12 students to help clear a paper will be mentioned on mark-sheets. Known as “grace marks”, these are given in cases where a student’s score narrowly misses the passing-mark.
The decision was part of proposals discussed by top officials of the education ministry and counterparts in the state. They included a move to do away with moderation — the practice of revising marks upwards — which could result in lower cut-offs in university entrances, such as the Delhi University. States have also agreed to do away with the policy of moderation, and several of them may follow CBSE in declaring the grace marks as well.
“CBSE has decided it will not spike marks at all. This will be implemented for this year’s board exam itself. It will award grace marks which will also be reflected in the mark sheet and the website will also clearly mention the mechanism used to give grace marks and to what extent,” said a senior official. Officials said as CBSE has decided to lead by example it will put pressure on other boards to follow.
“Some states are already doing it. This will bring greater transparency and it will provide a level playing field,” the official said.
“This could lead to slight dip in cut-off but it is difficult to quantify. Also, CBSE is not the only Board as we have many students from state Boards who apply to DU,” said a Delhi University official who did not want to be named.
There were a few states that expressed apprehension over mark-sheets reflecting the grace marks, saying it could be seen as a stigma but others argued that it will be unfair for those who pass without the extra marks.
States have also said they will continue with their own policy for grace marks. “The lower the marks, the higher are the benefits of moderation. So it is unfair for those who work hard. Many states have been doing this to ensure their pass percentage remains intact. However, this unnecessarily increases the cut-offs,” said a senior official.
In the past, the CBSE and state boards have awarded up to 10% to 15% cent extra marks in various subjects such as mathematics and physics. However, these extra marks are subject to the ceiling of 95%, as far as CBSE is concerned.
The CBSE also decided that instead of the current All India Senior Secondary Examination, Rest of the World and a separate exam for Delhi, CBSE will have only one exam across the country to ensure difficulty levels are uniform.
It has also been decided not to include the marks awarded for extracurricular activities (ECA) in the final tally of marks. They would be reflected separately on the mark sheet, preferably in the shape of grades.
“To ensure students who participate in ECA are given benefits it has been decided that a credit system will be evolved in consultation with the higher education department so that universities give them preference over those who have got the same marks,” said a senior HRD official.
Kerala will not be able to do away with the practice of moderation from this year as the final marks that it awards include the extracurricular activities too and it will not be able to change the marking system.
To ensure greater parity in examination and syllabus, it has also been decided that states can progressively adopt NCERT syllabus for core subjects such as mathematics, science, and they can continue with their regional variations.