Formative assessment of CCE pattern
The international assessment scene in recent years has been evolving towards balancing assessment of learning (summative assessment) for progression and accountability purposes, with assessment for learning (also known as formative assessment) which has the power to motivate and improve student learning.
In a way, it is a formative assessment time for the CCE where the response of students, teachers, parents, quality of the assessment tools used so far, their reliability, need for clarity in communication of the aims and methodology ought to be analyzed objectively
The international assessment scene in recent years has been evolving towards balancing assessment of learning (summative assessment) for progression and accountability purposes, with assessment for learning (also known as formative assessment) which has the power to motivate and improve student learning. Education stalwarts like Professor Stiggins recognize the power of assessment for learning and advocate a balanced assessment system that provides rich descriptions of student performance beyond single scores or grades. In his view, assessment must be seen as an instructional tool for use while learning occurs in the classroom, and as an accountability tool to determine if learning has occurred. Is not our CCE introduced by the CBSE a step in this direction and even beyond in its scope?
The CCE (Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation) has been in the news in education circles ever since its implementation four years ago by the CBSE. It is surely a positive initiative, a student-friendly examination reform which can build learners’ confidence and skills, reduce their anxiety and need for rote learning and fine-tune them into competent individuals fit to face societal demands .It may be new to our country but it is time-tested in many countries like Finland, Singapore, Korea, and the USA which are leading in educational reforms. These nations have researched, introduced step by step reforms with adequate quality training to all involved and continue to see each such reform as a step towards their nation’s higher goals and never give up their continuous cycle of feedback, training and further improvements.
As I have already shared in my articles earlier, the admission procedure for any higher courses in the US definitely considers the learner’s track of social skills and extracurricular activities, summer activities, too and the procedure has been fine-tuned so as to minimize or eliminate subjectivity successfully.
When I interact with parents, teachers or even students studying in CBSE schools, I do not find much enthusiasm and optimism regarding this ground-breaking reform. What is wrong? Where did we go wrong? After four years of implementation which rather seems to be ill-planned and hasty, it is high time for the system to introspect, reassess and initiate some corrections if it wishes to realize its laudable objectives. In a way , it is a formative assessment time for the CCE where the response of students, teachers, parents , quality of the assessment tools used so far, their reliability , need for clarity in communication of the aims and methodology ought to be analyzed objectively. When the future of 12 million plus students is to be affected by the CCE, it is but expected of us to be serious in our every move. Need we then ask how concerned we must be when almost 28 State governments are ready to adopt this pattern for their board examinations too? Is it right for the State governments to adopt rather hastily this reform that is not yet fully tested and acknowledged as successful?
The Chairman of CBSE believes that the ‘teething’ pains of the CCE system are over, but it is hard for the nation to be convinced. A mere increase in the pass percentile can never be the benchmark for concluding so. Moreover, contrary to the CBSE’s optimistic view, many teachers and principals feel that laxity in supervision, ambiguity in guidelines and too much freedom for internal assessment has led to inflation of marks and grades and dilution of standards which are detrimental in many ways.
‘Khoj’, a Gurgaon-based curriculum company, interviewed over 1482 teachers, 18 principals and surveyed over 100 schools to study the hurdles in the path of implementing CCE. The success of any reform, like the strength of a chain, rests on how strong each of its links is , and when teachers who are the backbone of education remain untrained, uninvolved, uninformed and indifferent, does it not spell doom to the CCE ? If countries like Finland and Singapore have succeeded in this pattern, it is because of the quality teachers they recruit. It is undeniable that the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers. In our country, teaching profession does not attract the cream of intellectuals, and if we wish to do the best of a bad job, we must at least focus on intense training spells at regular intervals.
What ‘Khoj’ observes is that our teachers who are pushed out of their comfort zone of conventional teaching and testing feel insecure as they have no adequate training, no opportunity to give their feedback and feel that the new workload is too burdensome as the teacher-pupil ratio is back-breaking. Parents from cities who are over- conscious of their children’s marks are not happy with the formative assessment and group work being allotted and the grades which wipe out the ‘superiority halo or ring’ for their child. Parents from rural background do not know the benefits of the CCE and much like their city counterparts, doubt the teachers’ objectivity in awarding marks for the projects and assignments which are a part of the formative assessment feat.