(Published in The New Indian Express, School Edition, on 13 October 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/school/what-is-continuous-and-comprehensive-evaluation/322350.html)
NOTE: This is not opinion. It's a fact-based summary of the CCE system to be implemented in state board schools.
On September 27 this year, the Tamil Nadu government announced that state board schools would shift to the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) system, followed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) as well as state board schools in Karnataka and Kerala.
The Government Order was issued based on the findings of an expert committee. Not only will the examination pattern be changed, grades will be given instead of marks.
Most parents and students are said to be happy about the change, as it lightens the load on students, but some are worried that the teachers may not be able to cope with the new forms of assessment.
What Does the CCE Involve?
The CCE is an attempt to shift from learning by rote to applying one’s knowledge. The questions in examination paper will not simply be based on information, but on interpretation of concepts. So ‘mugging up’ will not be enough.
Under the CCE, assessment is carried out under two categories – summative (weighted at 60%) and formative (weighted at 40%).
Summative assessment will be conducted at the end of each term, and will be largely performance-based. This is divided into two categories – Scholastic and Co-Scholastic Areas. Scholastic area assessment is based on the student’s knowledge of the portions covered by the syllabus in various subjects. This also includes Physical Education, Yoga, Gymnastics and Folk Arts. Co-Scholastic areas refer to life skills, personality development, participation in programmes like the NSS, Scouts, indigenous sports, clubs, and other individual skills, including performing and visual arts.
Formative assessment is continuous (done throughout the term), and will be based on lateral thinking tests as well as activities such as projects, debates and group discussions. The written tests will fall under Classroom Assessment, and activities under Skill-Based Assessment. There will be six tests for each type, in each subject, and the best four performances will be taken into consideration for the final grade.
Grades are given based on the performance of the students, and so are grade points. Technically, the grade points when multiplied by ten will give an indication of the marks in that area. But this is not always accurate. (See Table 1)
Why Is the CCE Being Adopted?
The Government Order puts down two main reasons for the shift in evaluation system – that the question papers are predictable and don’t test the student’s creativity, and that “fear of failure leads to many tragic consequences”.
The implementation of the grading system instead of marks in the CBSE seems to have been a success. Within months of the first grade-based final results being announced, media reported that there were fewer distress calls to helplines, and no instances of suicide in Class X. There were fewer applications for re-evaluation too, and this was thought to be because someone who got the top grade could have scored anywhere between 81 and 100 percent.
The other reason given for the proposed shift is the inability of the current system to accommodate the student’s learning style or learning capacity.
When Will CCE be Implemented?
The implementation of the CCE is planned for classes I to VIII for the academic year 2012-13. For the higher classes – IX and X – it will be implemented in 2013-14. It isn’t clear yet whether Classes XI and XII will be included.
What Are the Concerns?
Most parents and educators are said to be pleased with this idea, because the CCE will take some of the pressure off students. Also, many feel it will help bring students of the state board on par with their counterparts in CBSE, especially after the implementation of the USE, which was largely viewed as lowering the standard of the matriculation syllabus.
However, some are doubtful about the teachers’ capacity to cope with the workload and assessment requirements of the new system. A similar scheme, Comprehensive Internal Assessment, was abandoned in the 1970s, because teachers said they could not handle it. Under this system, students will have to be graded on their performance in debates and speeches, which means the teachers’ skill-sets will also have to broaden.
Table 1: Grades for Scholastic Areas
12 and below
8 and below
A – Excellent
B – Very good
C – Good
D – Satisfactory
E – Needs improvement
Table 2: Assessment
Classroom Assessment:Best four scores out of six 5-mark classroom tests, in each subject
4 X 5 = 20 marks
Skill-based Assessment:Best four performances in six activities worth 5 marks each
4 X 5 = 20 marks
(60% - Graded)
Areas of Assessment
Subjects: Math, Science, Social Science, English, Tamil
Written tests based on knowledge, understanding
Physical Education, Yoga, Gymnastics, Folk Arts, Gardening
Involvement, regularity, persistence, team spirit
Life skills, work experience, personality development, attitude, values, co-curricular activities, unique skills
Descriptive indicators prescribed by an evaluation committee, and detailed in the Teachers Manual