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CBSE open book exam plan evokes mixed reactions



The Indian Express

The decision of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to introduce open text-based assessment (OTBA) for developing “higher order thinking skills’ from March 2014 has evoked mixed reactions from principals and teachers. While many hailed it as a progressive concept with the potential to revolutionise the country’s education system, a section felt the scheme was “another half-baked experiment”. And even though there is little clarity on how the system will actually work, most agree adequate teacher training will be the key to make it a success. “Open book exam is a fantastic move that has the potential to make quality of learning far more superior than what exists in the country right now. It is a revolutionary answer to the ‘cramming culture’ in schools and will enable children to become independent thinkers and thought leaders,” Lata Vaidyanathan, principal of Modern School, Barakhamba Road, said. According to L V Sehgal, principal, Bal Bharti School, the new system will “challenge students to learn more, and find their own answers”. “Since it’s not a book-driven thing, it is that much more open. Students will be forced to think beyond narrow definitions of what they learn from books, making learning more experiential.” However, Abha Sehgal, principal, Sanskriti School, believes the system will only work if teachers and students are “comfortable” with it. “On paper, it looks a great system, but it will take a little time to evolve a proper methodology to make the system work in the context of the current education system.” Many are also of the opinion that the move is a half-baked attempt at copying the Western model of education. “We are still not done with implementing CCE, and the CBSE has introduced this new system. In a country, where thousands of schools lack even basic infrastructure, this new system will only fuel confusion. It’s a system made keeping only a few schools in mind, aped from the so-called developed Westernised world,” R C Jain, Chairman, Delhi State Public Schools Management Association, said. According to Jain, the system will also promote “copying culture” among students, who will now have access to text material during exams. Teachers said more clarity was needed on the conduct and evaluation of the tests, as extra exams would only increase the burden on students already preparing for the Boards. “What are the creative questions or high-order thinking questions that we are suppose to come up with? We need more briefings and workshops on how to conduct such tests, because the questions here won’t be direct, and we will have to prepare students on what to expect,” a senior teacher from DPS, Vasant Kunj, said.

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