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KCET: Good decision on the way forward

KCET: Good decision on the way forward

The episode points to the lackadaisical manner in which the question papers were prepared without proper oversight. It is strange that the papers were not scrutinised by any superior authority before they were handed to the test-takers.

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Last Updated : 30 April 2024, 21:37 IST
Last Updated : 30 April 2024, 21:37 IST
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The Karnataka government has done well not to conduct a re-examination for the Karnataka Common Entrance Test (KCET-24) and instead to ignore the out-of-syllabus questions that appeared in the recent test while marking and ranking the test-takers, but questions remain over how this will work, whether this will be regarded as fair, and there also remains the task of fixing responsibility for the lapse in setting the test papers and punishing the guilty.  The issue had left over 3.5 lakh students who had appeared for the test confused and in panic.

KCET determines their eligibility for admissions to professional courses in the state. Though students contended that the papers were relatively easy for the most part, they had been shocked to find questions from outside the syllabus that they had been taught and which many had not been able to answer. To make matters worse, the Karnataka Examination Authority (KEA) had initially argued that this was not the case. The inclusion of out-of-syllabus questions in the test seems to have been a case of negligence since the revised syllabus had been up on the Pre-University Board’s website since more than a year. Once the KEA admitted the faux pas, it initially appeared inclined to conduct a re-exam. But it was later felt that this would add to the trauma of students who also had to prepare for several other entrance tests. A re-exam would also upset the academic calendar. A proposal to award grace marks was also shot down as it would be unfair to give such marks to both those who had attempted to answer the questions and those who had not. Besides, the rules permit a maximum of six grace marks to be awarded in any subject.

The government has done well to decide against both conducting a re-exam or awarding grace marks. A notification issued by the government read, “Keeping in view the expert committee report and opinion of many stakeholders and the paramount interest of protecting the legitimate interests of the students in mind, the KEA is directed to remove questions that are out of 2023-24 syllabus from the assessments, and assess only the remaining questions.” In other words, the out-of-syllabus questions will not be considered during valuation, irrespective of whether or not a student attempted them. This is the best way forward in the circumstances. 

The episode points to the lackadaisical manner in which the question papers were prepared without proper oversight. It is strange that the papers were not scrutinised by any superior authority before they were handed to the test-takers. To avoid such instances in the future, the KEA has been directed to prepare a standard operating procedure for setting question papers. While this is welcome, those responsible for the current lapse should be held accountable. Lakhs of students who were already anxious considering that this is a crucial point in their lives were subjected to further stress due to the negligence of those who had been set the task of setting the question papers. 

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