Enter 2009, the year for the paradigm shift in the Indian education system. A lot of new assessment systems were being considered for this next big change (percentile system, grading system et al.) Eventually in 2010, the CBSE decided to do away with the evaluation system of marks to give way for grades (In this system a specific grade is allotted over a range of marks, e.g. A1 for marks 91-100).
With this new system came many expectations. People believe it would reduce the stress levels which would probably reduce the suicide rates due to examination fears. Many expected that it would diminish the inter and intra variability in marking. But the major question that lies in front of us today is whether the grading system proved its mettle?
In practice, the grading system has just been an alluring alternative to marks. Now, there is a comparison of alpha-numeral combinations rather than just numbers (which makes the argument that grades help students deal with peer and parental pressure is absurd). The grades, however diminish the variability of marks, but at the same time pose a threat to learning orientation. (For e.g. a scores 91, 93, 95 and 92 in four subjects and within the present system of grading gets an A1 in all subjects. Now consider B, who scores 93, 99, 89 and 90 and gets A1 in two subjects while scoring A2 in the other two. Now, in case of a GPA, A (10/10) scores better than B (9.5/10). But in terms of percentage, B and A both score 92.75 %.).
The flaw lies with the very core of the education system in India. Our present education promotes rote learning, kills creativity and encourages rat-race. It follows a rigid assessment system (i.e pen and paper test) which only examines the skill of recollection and writing while failing to identify the other intelligences. The syllabus is archaic and does not suit the contemporary needs of the students. The teachers are highly untrained and therefore fail to instill innovation, creativity, lateral thinking and practical application. Most middle schools and high schools put so much emphasis on homework versus actual understanding that they are measuring behavior and compliance far more than what has been learned. “Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth, for a particular commodity, and for the future, it won’t serve us.”
It is time we revamped our education system and not just the report cards. The present assessment system in education has long judged a fish by its ability to climb trees. Grades (or marks) don’t prepare children for the “real world” — unless one has in mind a world where interest in learning and quality of thinking are unimportant.