CBSE gets the math right

Students write their CBSE board exams, in Gurugram. PTI

The Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) has recently taken a welcome decision that should ease the stress of students appearing for its Class 10 examinations. It announced two levels of mathematics examinations for them: Mathematics Standard, which will be equivalent to the current examination, and Mathematics Basic, which will be an easier paper. While the syllabus, teaching, internal assessment and topics tested for both levels will be the same, the difference lies in the framing of the question papers. This means that all students will have the same opportunity to learn the subject but will be assessed according to their interest level in the subject. The question paper for Mathematics Standard will require more analysis and conceptual understanding. Students who opt for the Mathematics Basic paper will not be allowed to take mathematics as a subject at the senior secondary level. The CBSE curriculum is known to be a tough one, with the curriculum for mathematics considered to be particularly rigorous and challenging. Many students do not have an aptitude for mathematics and are not keen to pursue the subject at the Plus Two-level. Of the 15 lakh students who appear for the CBSE examination annually, just 3-5 lakh opt to study mathematics at the senior secondary level. It is to avoid putting 10-12 lakh students under needless pressure that the CBSE has come up with its two-level formula for mathematics.

Students will need to make their choice regarding the mathematics level a few months before the examination. Should a student who opted for Mathematics Basic change his mind, the CBSE will allow him to take the Mathematics Standard examination during the compartment exams. Such a change of choice could happen if the student rethinks her decision to avoid mathematics at the higher secondary level or feels prepared to take on the challenge of the tougher Mathematics Standard examination. The CBSE’s show of flexibility is heartening as it shows a willingness to accommodate students’ changing preferences and confidence levels. The two-level system for the CBSE mathematics subject will take effect from 2020. The Board is reportedly considering extending this two-level system to other subjects, too.

The CBSE has shown willingness to make education more meaningful for students. It has been proactive in reforming the education system, curricula and teaching methods of its affiliated schools. It has done well now to recognise that children do not have the same abilities, attitudes or interests and that there must be flexibility in testing and assessing them. The two-level mathematics examination system is a step in the right direction. The SSLC and ICSE boards should take a leaf out of the CBSE’s book.

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CBSE gets the math right

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