Rising above competition

Score Card

Rising above competition

Big Relief: For many students, the new grade system is like getting off a mad race.

A huge load is off their back. And not just the students, even their near and dear ones can feel it. But the Centre's decision to introduce grading system in Class X of the CBSE from 2011, has drawn mixed responses from students. 

On one hand, their relief is understandable. It is like being asked to get off a mad race to score 90 per cent and above midway through the race. Students are happy that they now get to divert their attention from textbooks to activities that is of some interest to them. This, they say, only motivates them to perform better. They see the grading system as a saving grace from unnecessary competition, jealousy and rivalry. The new system will encourage a healthy competition among the students.

Earlier students would compete to score equal marks if not the highest and anything less or more would induce unnecessary pressure on them. Finally, it all boiled down to marks and how much more you can score and what all you can do to sustain those marks.

But the students don’t want to let go off exams altogether because they fear it might dampen their competitive spirit. Akshay Venkatesh of Class X, Kendriya Vidyalaya thinks the new grading system will induce healthy competition among the students and “will take away unnecessary pressures and there will be no jealousy among the students,” he says. Aditya Vignesh of Class X, CMR National Public School observes that as soon as children enter Class X, they begin to get tensed and the parents start pressuring them to score high marks. “Even if one has to give up extra curricular activities, one needs to score well. This is all that students are taught to believe. Grading will have continuous assessments which will be sent to parents from time to time,” he points out. 

But there are students like V Vishal of the Army Public School, who think, “Grading system will usher in a lot of partiality. In exams, the marks are there for one to see but in grading how does one know how much one has scored in terms of marks?” he wonders and adds, “with marks you know where you stand.” Vishal believes exams are a reflection of one's competitive spirit.

Vishnu Bharadwaj of Class X, CMR National Public School concurs with Vishal’s views, saying that board exams are essential in Class X. “If Class X exams are scrapped, then students will face their first board exams only in Class XII and they will have no prior experience of writing these exams. It will reduce one's confidence and I see more pressure on students,” he says. Vishnu reasons that exams also help one decide one's stream of subject in Class XI and XII. With grades your strength in a particular subject is not visible.

Girls are no less vocal. Arati Arora, Delhi Public School (North) reasons that with the grading system, the competitive spirit among the students is lost, “What is the difference between a student who scores 90 per cent and the one who scores a centrum, they all fall into one category, the A grade? There’s no differentiation,” she points out.

Educationists and child psychologists observe that it is not the children who are worked up and stressed but the parents whose anxiety is passed on to the teachers and children. “With the grading system, it wouldn't be about the marks but what grade my son or daughter has scored. The pressure will remain the same,” says Swati Poppat Vats, an educationist. She reasons that if the grading system and continuous assessment could percolate down to the lower classes instead of remaining at Class X, it would be a great move. “The competitive spirit will remain the same,” she says.

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