CHENNAI: What was once celebrated as a path-breaking initiative, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has now decided to scrap the open book tests.
The open book tests were introduced, amidst much fanfare, as a pilot project in 2014 for annual exam of Class XI and for the second summative tests (usually held in December or January) for Class IX.
Amidst negative responses for the open book tests, the governing body of the board at its recent meeting took the final call to put an end to it, terming it as a “hindering development of students’ critical abilities”.
This means that in the annual exams coming up from this March, the open book tests won’t be a part of them.
During the first phase, the open book tests were introduced for Class IX in English, Hindi, Maths, Science and Social Science subjects and a few subjects, including Economics, Biology and Geography, for Class IX students.
The results were a part of the second summative assessment for Class IX (March) and the annual examination for Class XI (Carrying 10 per cent weightage in each subject).
Test material, including articles, pictures, graphics and case studies, were given to students months in advance and the questions had open-ended, subjective questions of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).
Though the concept received widespread appreciation from academics and was a hit among student fraternity, a section of educationists and schools opposed it. Responding to this, the board sought feedback from various stakeholders last August.
This issue was taken up at the governing body meeting recently. “Though some argued about the impact this practice had on keeping malpractice under check, a majority of the schools opined that the open book tests hindered the critical development of students,” said a senior HRD official who attended the meet.
CBSE sources hinted that despite presence of HOTS questions, many students managed to pass by just answering basic questions. Mere copying of what was printed in the textbook was certainly not going to help them in higher grades.
Welcoming this, S Namasivayam, principal of Maharishi Vidya Mandir in Kilpauk, said, “The system failed as the stakeholders (both students and teachers) failed to utilise it.”
Speaking on similar lines, Mansi Dhanania, a Class IX student from Bhavan’s Rajaji Vidyashram, said that Open Text Based Assessment (OTBA) was an additional burden as most questions were vague and based outside their syllabus.
A CBSE teacher based in Chennai requesting anonymity said, “We don’t get adequate time to cover voluminous topics listed under OTBA.” She added that students were unable to complete their exams on time as interpreting the questions within the prescribed time limit was difficult.
The governing body has also decided to scrap the CBSE-international curriculum made available for affiliated schools in India and abroad. These schools were advised to return to the regular CBSE curriculum from this year.