CBSE took a step aimed at enhancing the quality of education i.e. the open book exam, which may effect from the 2014 board examination for class 10 in all subjects and class 12 for in selected subjects.
The Central Board of Secondary Examination is likely to issue a formal notification to affiliated schools regarding introduction of ‘open book’ analytical examination in December. It reflects a fresh, innovative spirit trying to reshape education in India - and creating measures to give students a break.
A quick look at the open-book methodology illustrates why. In this mode, students are informed of possible topics for testing some months before their exam. They thus have time to read up thoroughly on these areas and prepare to answer analytical questions rather than mechanical queries. Such questions, designed to teach students how to mine material thoroughly, encourage analytical thought, original perspectives and creative linking of different sorts of information in examinees' minds. However, students will not be allowed books inside the examination hall. It would be a modified version called ‘Pre Announced Test’ (PAT), where students will be taught the concepts four months prior to the examination.
What these cancel out is rote learning or getting through coursework using guide books that break subjects into technical question-answer sets, not open fields of knowledge students learn to navigate with skills and practice.
Open-book testing is decidedly a step in the right direction - one which the CBSE should follow the whole way. For critics who prefer the traditional chants of rote learning, get real. Current data shows rote is doing very little for India's learning. Despite our chest-thumping over producing doctors and engineers by the barrel, a recent Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) study shows how Indian educational standards have slipped so low, we now rank second-last from the world's weakest - one step above Kyrgyzstan. This, when some of our best students took the PISA test conducted over 73 countries. Clearly, it's time we rebooted our educational system, making it much more creative, analytical and intellectually enjoyable. The world around us has changed enormously. Why should our education be stuck in a dull rut?
The test will include questions that will need students’ analytical and applicatory skills and will be a combination of both PAT and the existing pattern. School principals have welcomed the move. “Students will need to understand what they learn and not simply memorise,” said Sunita George, vice principal, Ramniranjan Podar school, Santacruz.
Teachers will have to frame questions that test the students’ analytical ability. “Special training sessions will be organised before the implementation of the PAT pattern,” said Sadna Parashar, director of training, CBSE.
The new pattern may enable students to score better, but they have to face complex questions. “There would be no problem during students’ junior college admissions, as all boards are adopting new methods to assess them.