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From the National Curriculum Framework, 2005:

 

The purpose of evaluation is not

  • to motivate children to study under threat.
  • to identify or label children as ‘slow learners’, or ‘bright students’, or ‘problem children’. Such categories segregate children, placing the onus for learning solely on them, and detract from the role and purpose of pedagogy.
  • to identify children who need remediation (this need not wait for formal assessment; it can be detected by the teacher in the course of teaching and attended to as a part of pedagogic planning , through individualized attention).
  • to diagnose learning difficulties and problem areas—while broad indications about conceptual difficulties can be identified via evaluation and formal testing. Diagnosis requires special testing instruments and training. It is also specific to foundational areas of literacy and numeracy, and is not meant for subject areas.

 

So then, what is the purpose of evaluation?Again, quoting from the NCF, In the Indian education system, the term evaluation is associated with examination, stress and anxiety. If education is concerned with preparing citizens for a meaningful and productive life, then evaluation should be a way of providing credible feedback on the extent to which we have been successful in imparting such an education. Given the present structure of evaluation, it has not been successful in providing adequate and comprehensive feedback on a student’s overall learning. Instead, it has forced students to resort to rote learning rather than understanding concepts, and parents to set certain unrealistic benchmarks for their children.

In an attempt to understand the cause and effect of the evaluation system, I created a mindmap with the help of Anupriya and Manasi. This helped me in identifying specific issues with the system, and come up with a few initial design opportunities.

PROBLEMS IDENTIFIED / QUESTIONS ASKED

  • If assessment must be comprehensive and qualitative, based on the teacher’s daily observation of a child, does the teacher have enough time and resources to do so?
  • Can communication between parents, teachers and students be improved? Can Open Saturdays as a concept be implemented in a more productive and meaningful manner?
  • Is it possible to make the CCE system easily understood by the parents, so they can use it to truly monitor and facilitate their child’s learning?
  • Is there a way we can help teachers understand that evaluation is an integral part of their role in shaping a child’s future, and not something they have to do after school hours (added burden)?
  • Can report cards become a platform for more open dialog between parents, teachers and students with parent feedback on the report rather than only signature, and student’s self assessment and introspection?
  • Is it necessary to have or red marks on the report card? Is it possible to have subjective remarks from the teacher followed by parent and student opinion/feedback/discussion?
  • Does everything need to be shown on the report card, such as cleanliness/behaviour, etc. which creates a divide among students based on economic status? Can such information be directly communicated to the parents?
  • Can connections be made between academic and co-curricular activities on the report card so a student is truly assessed on the basis of his learning? Eg. A student might have scored less marks in English but may have won/done well in an essay writing competition.
  • Can hierarchy and emphasis given to different subjects, and then other activities be rethought of in the report card? The fragmented and block like structure creates immediate hierarchy in terms of what is important and what is not.

INTERVENTIONS / DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES

  • Evaluation Diary for Teachers to keep track of everyday observations & comments so it is easier to compile at the time of preparing a report card. It would also help in tracking progress over a longer duration of time, and would provide insights that otherwise can be easily missed. It also would reduce the burden on the teacher to think, recollect and write about a large number of students if a daily/weekly record is maintained.
  • Primer/toolkit/small scale publication to break down the CCE system and make it easily understood by parents. A similar approach can be taken with the target audience being teachers.
  • Intervention to get more out of Parent-Teacher meetings, focussing on improving communication between them and the students. It is not enough to know that a student did or did not do well in a particular subject or activity; it is essential to understand why.
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7th September, 2012. DPS, Bopal.

I visited the school today to meet with the Vice Principal, Ms. Vandna Joshi.

She was kind enough to listen to me and talk to me at length about the education system. She emphasized on the fact that education is a collective effort by students, teachers and parents; and that educating a child is not possible in isolation. Quite often, she has found that parents fight for grades. To communicate with the parents, DPS organizes a series of Parent-Teacher meetings, to discuss with the parents about the progress of their children.

In her opinion, the CCE system is good because it gives a more holistic picture. The students who might not have fared very well academically, but are good at sports or extra curricular activities, get a boost as their talent is recognized. It keeps the students on their feet. The system has just been implemented so students and teachers are in the transition phase. It would take some time for the system to take full effect and start showing results. Parents and students have not fully been able to understand the new system. Workshops have been conducted for teachers but it is important for the parents to understand and appreciate the new evaluation methods.

I also spoke to a few students about the current evaluation system.

Tanaya and Smriti, both from class 10, were of the opinion that the new CCE system is not transparent. They felt that sometimes there is no accountability as to why they were given a particular grade. But they acknowledged the fact that due to importance now being given to co-curricular activities, their grades present a more holistic picture.

Hrithik, Ninad and Poojan (from class 8) said that they liked the new system because now their parents do not pester them for every single mark.

This visit to DPS, gave me a general feeling that although the CCE system is geared to reflect a holistic measure of student’s growth, it is not easily understood by the students and their parents. It leaves the student and his/her parents confused as to how to take in, understand and use it to asses/get feedback on how well the student is being educated.

Divyangana – Marketing Student, MICA

  • 36% of Indian Population is in the 12-25 age group. Hence, there is a skewed ratio of children to teachers, which makes it very difficult for teachers to focus on each student’s progress individually. A one-one relationship with students seems to be out of the question till the infrastructure is created to support such a large population of students.
  • Students have a better relationship with tuition teachers than their school teachers.
  • There needs to be a bridge between What We Want to Gauge and What Is Possible To Gauge.
  • Student Feedback forms keep teachers on their toes and motivate teachers to take more interest in their students and course content.
  • Societies and Clubs (eg. debates, quiz, etc) foster holistic development in students.

Promyth Basu – Graphic Design Student, NID

  • There are no examinations in West Bengal till class 8, but no competition leads to no learning. Emphasis is taken away from merit and students get opportunities based on lottery/chance, which is unfair.
  • Logical Thinking needs to be included in the curriculum.
  • Students should be encouraged to logically express themselves.

27th August, 2012.

The first guide meeting with Tarun was more of a project initiation session. We spoke about the education system in general and tried to chalk out a framework of the project. It was important to understand evaluation in context of the present education system as a whole. Are schools today following a model of training or education? What really is the purpose of education? And what role does evaluation play in the entire process?

Tarun also gave me a few books to read, which are mentioned in the Reading List. CBSE has implemented a new evaluation system (CCE – Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation) which has been adopted by schools and is facing criticism from across the country. It would be important to find out what went into the devising of the new system, and how this would effect student learning in the long run. The National Curriculum Framework (2005) has a section on Assessment & Evaluation which could provide an understanding of the basis on which the CCE was devised.

We discussed where we could get the most relevant and useful information from and narrowed it down to –

  • Personal Experiences
  • Second Hand Experiences
  • Teachers
  • Academic Administration

It was decided that I would have to take a public school such as Kendriya Vidyalaya, and a school where parents send their children for better education such as DPS, as case studies.

Takeaway from the discussion – Understand and Find Opinions.