No Grace Marks in CBSE

In what can be regarded as a major decision, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to do away with moderation policy that awards grace marks to students in case of difficult questions. The decision was taken on April 24 at a high-level meeting. It was in December 2016 that the CBSE had asked the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry to help all the state boards in India arrive at a consensus regarding doing away with the said policy. The decision in question comes after such a step. Thanks to the grace marks granted as part of the policy, the scores in board examinations were starting to get inflated.

How does the moderation policy work?

As per the moderation policy students get a maximum of 15% additional marks in case the questions happen to be difficult. However, this is applicable only for a few papers. It is expected though – even after the policy has been scrapped – that students will be given grace marks to make sure that they pass an examination. This will be done especially in cases where they only need a few marks in order to pass.

If the states partake in the policy as well then it is expected that the cut-off marks for admission to colleges and universities, which have shown no signs of receding in the last few years, will finally come down. The CBSE however feels that if the policy were to be scrapped unilaterally students will face issues, especially during undergraduate admissions. It has said that all the state boards should agree to it.

The system of moderation was originally conceived in order to make sure that there was some parity in the number of students that passed in different regions as well as in the marks that they scored.

Have the school boards agreed to the same?

32 school boards across India have already agreed to this scrapping. It is believed that this move will check the glut of high scores in board examinations in the last few years. The CBSE had recently organised a meeting to this end for three hours on 24 April. It was attended by Anil Swarup, the School Education Secretary. Swarup has opined that by stopping inorganic surge in marks, CBSE would be setting an example for others to follow.

It was in 1992 that the policy first came into being and it is expected that in 2017 there is a very real possibility of seeing performances drop in a long time. The central board is also going to take some other steps to ensure that there is greater consistency across all the regions where its schools are located.

Parity in questions

CBSE is expected to discontinue its practice of setting different question papers for students in Delhi and other regions in India and outside the country. From now on, all schools affiliated to the CBSE will be answering the same paper. The school boards have also agreed to take on a policy whereby they would be fully disclosing the grace marks awarded to students. Details will be provided on the official website as well as the report cards of the students.

Arresting the inflation

CBSE has also taken some other steps to stop the inflation in marks of Class XII exams. It has asked the school boards to provide separately the grades or scores obtained by students in extracurricular activities. They should not be placed together with marks scored in academic performance. A number of boards right now add marks scored in areas such as physical education with the academic scores. The board is suspicious that a lot of schools practice this – awarding marks liberally in these areas – in order to make sure that the students fare well in the board examinations.