Board Results: The 90% Club

For the past few years, the Class X and Class XII results have been surprising me because the number of people scoring 90 per cent or above has been increasing steadily. Let’s take the example of the current year’s results. Out of the 17.6 lakh students who appeared for the CBSE Class X examination, 2.25 lakh students scored 90 per cent or above. This means 12.8 percent of students scored 90 per cent or above.

Even the ICSE board results were fascinating, to say the least. Out of the 546 students who appeared for the ICSE Class X exam this year, 123 students scored more than 90 per cent. This means 22.5 percent of students scored more than 90 per cent. The case is no different for the Class XII results. As a matter of fact, results like these were unimaginable a couple of decades back!

Is it that the students these days are more studious or intelligent? Is it that the schools have started teaching better? Or, is it that the CBSE or ICSE boards have become lenient and started designing easier question papers? Or, have the evaluators become liberal while marking? There has to be something that the trend of marks in just moving upwards. I wish the answer is that the students have actually become more intelligent than the previous generations and the level of teaching has gone up. However, I am not sure that this would be the correct assumption. I think this trend is more to do with the change in the pattern of evaluation.

Many of the parents that I have spoken to lately are also disturbed by this trend. Interestingly, these parents include even those people whose children have scored well in the board exams this year. When a child gets a lot of marks easily, s/he can develop a notion that s/he is already a success or at least on the path to success. I remember when I was in school I always thought if I got 90 per cent marks, everything will fall in place even later in life. Well, we all know success in adult life doesn’t have much to do with your marks.

Now, coming to the perfect scores across subjects. I can understand that one can get full marks in objective subjects like Mathematics where two plus two would always equal four. However, for a subject like English, how can one get full marks? Does that mean the child made no spelling mistakes and was perfect in language and comprehension? Back in the 1990s, we were told that we can never score 100% in a subject like English. Maybe that is how I have been wired to think. Interestingly, my personal experience with this current lot of students has been different. Whenever I communicate with the younger generation, I find them using slangs very often and even using abbreviations while writing. Is it that they somehow use perfect English during exams? I don’t know.

If I were to go by the logic that the examination boards have become lenient now, then what purpose are they serving other than giving false hopes to students? When a lot of students get good marks, the admission process in colleges becomes tougher. Even with a score as impressive as 95 per cent, there is no guarantee that a student would get admission in a college of his/ her choice.

Another aspect that concerns me is the internal assessment. I like the concept and the rationale behind it. However, when I see most students getting 20/20 and the weaker students getting something like an 18/20, again, I feel the whole purpose of having an internal assessment gets defeated. All schools want good results for their students, and hence cannot be expected to do anything that will mar their results. Consequently, they all give good marks; thereby, achieving parity across all students. It would not be incorrect to say that the actual evaluation is on 80 marks, with most students getting 20/20 for the rest.

The last point that I want to make is something that holds true across generations. Is our syllabus suited to the needs of the real world? Can we say that a student who has scored 90 per cent is 50 per cent smarter or more intelligent than the one who scored 60 per cent? Can we say the chances of success of the former are 50 per cent more than those of the latter? Surely, we cannot. These marks are already not indicative of the calibre or potential of a child. Let’s not make a system already misrepresentative of the ground reality even more misrepresentative by giving away marks so easily to so many.

Before I end, let me add a disclaimer. It’s not a case of sour grapes for me because I scored fairly well back in my school days. In fact, this is precisely the reason why I feel even more strongly about this topic. I spent a lot of time and energy on focussing how to get 90 per cent or above, thinking that was the be-all and end-all of life. I wish I had known back then that only good marks were not important. And, please note, back then only a few ‘lucky’ ones crossed that 90 per cent-mark.

Congratulations to all who scored well and good luck to those who couldn’t! Life will give you many more chances to prove yourself. This was just the start…

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About the Author: Shobhika Puri

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