Moderation? CBSE awards up to 11 extra marks in a subject

PUBLISH DATE 2nd June 2017

Board Also Raised Grace Limit To 10

Ordered by the court to restore moderation of marks in Class XII this year, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) seems to have gone way beyond reasonable limits of the policy while awarding marks. Up to 11extra marks were given in accountancy, 10 in mathematics and eight each in physics and chemistry , documents accessed by TOI reveal.

This is apart from set-wise moderated marks awarded due to difference in difficulty levels and other discrepancies. The spiking, evidently done in anticipation of other boards doing the same, is bound to reopen the moderation debate.

One expert called it “not moderation, but competitive inflation“ of marks. Others said spiking of marks was putting an otherwise progressive policy (moderation) under a cloud, with all boards getting into competitive mode. CBSE also gave up to 10 marks as gra ce for candidates who failed to get qualifying marks. TOI accessed documents on CBSE's moderation process this year for all India sets of question papers of 18 subjects. There were set-specific extra marks given to the same question paper(s). For example, while physics has been awarded eight marks as moderation, for `set 2' and `set 3', an additional one each has been awarded. Speaking to TOI, former CBSE chairperson Ashok K Ganguly said that such variability in mean marks amongst different sets of question papers should not have arisen in the first place.“These cannot be moderation of marks if the process has been done properly . Earlier, moderation of one to three marks used to be adequate,“ he said.

Stating that moderation is a necessity for a national board such as CBSE, Ganguly said it should be done judiciously . “State boards should not be moderating at all,“ he added. CBSE had stated it would not moderate marks this year. However, on May 22, 2017, the Delhi high court overturned the decision. Following the court's order, CBSE continued with its “moderation policy“ and the Class XII results were notified on May 28, 2017.

The board's grace marks policy (for those candidates failing in a subject) too was `liberalised' this year. As per CBSE documents with TOI, a total of 10 marks were awarded to candidates as grace. According to a former controller of examination, “grace marks used to be three or maximum four till around 2009“.

In the wake of this year's moderated marks, a former CBSE chairperson has called for reviving the Council of Boards of School Education in India (COBSE), a voluntary association of all the school boards. “It seems that COBSE has become dysfunctional. Its mandate was to create a levelplaying situation. The body should be revived and the human resource development ministry should intervene, along with state education ministers, to ensure that the 2018 board results are different,“ he said.

The ministry of human re source development and the CBSE have not been on the same page over the decision to do away with moderation even though the ministry agreed various boards were “spiking“ marks. But the ministry's view that the decision be implemented from next year to avoid complications did not find favour with the CBSE.

The ministry is similarly worried that the decision only to re-total and not re-evaluate has been taken without taking into consideration the interests of students and may create resentment if it was not fully explained.

According to HRD sources, the ministry and the board had major differences as the minister asked CBSE to work on the policy only after detailed consultation and implement it from 2018.