It’s a mode of assessment that could only be called bizarre. In an exam scheduled to be held on Saturday, Commerce and Humanities students of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) of Class XI will have to write a paper wherein questions related to Physics, Chemistry and mathematics will be asked.
Despite drawing criticism from students, the CBSE has decided to continue with this additional paper called ‘Problem Solving Assessment (PSA)’ for the second year in a row. Aimed at “assessing” students’ reasoning skills, analytical skills, thinking skills and other “higher order” mental abilities, the exam is compulsory for students of Class IX and XI. But what is unclear is the reason behind the CBSE’s insistence that the critical thinking ability of students who opted humanities be analysed through the prism of science subjects alone.
Students have strong objections against this evaluation method as the marks in PSA paper will be added to their final year marks. “Assessing a student should not be based only on Science and Mathematics! If a student has opted for a different subject there would be a reason, it could be because he or she may find it difficult or it could be to achieve his or her ambition. That reason is not considered and is not respected” a CBSE student told Express over an email.
Commerce or Humanities stream Class XI students have different combinations which does not include Physics and Chemistry, and Mathematics is optional for them. The mode of assessment gives the students of science stream an unfair advantage over others.
Lakshmi Haridas, principal, Al Ameen Public School said that PSA will not ask tough science related questions. “This is just an exam to assess the higher order thinking and aptitude of students. Only Class X level difficulty will be there,” she said. But students refute this and point out that the sample papers of PSA does not carry any simple or basic questions.
Indira Rajan of Kerala CBSE School Managements Association said PSA papers were introduced to curb surge of A+ grades.