The Odisha government’s plan to introduce a periodical assessment system in secondary and higher secondary classes is most welcome. It is a lesson learnt from the immense challenges the Covid pandemic presented after two crucial examinations had to be cancelled. Once CBSE announced the assessment system for Class X and XII, Odisha’s Department of School and Mass Education had a tough time deciding on an alternative evaluation plan for its boards. Currently, its Class XII examination is conducted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education whereas the Board of Secondary Education takes care of the Class X test. In trying to come up with an assessment formula for students who could not sit for the exams, both the boards have had to fall back on almost a single past test. Much of Class X assessment would be based on a student’s Class IX performance. For Class XII, it is dependent on Class X scores in different combinations. The alternative assessment system for the Class XII examination seems more like a puzzle. At the core of the problem is an absent internal evaluation system at both secondary and higher secondary levels while mid-term and practice tests are close to redundant. This also tells a tale of the dust that had settled in the examination and assessment systems.
But that is not the only obstacle the education system is facing right now. The multiple waves of Covid and uncertainty lying ahead mean that students are not likely to return to physical classrooms anytime soon. Much of the teaching and learning has to be conducted through the online system, which is why the state government has started livestreaming classes on YouTube till Class X. Last year, when lockdown was imposed and classes shifted online, a little more than 33% of the students could attend the virtual classes because access to internet and smartphones emerged as the biggest hindrance. The number has improved to 40% by now but the challenge persists. As the Odisha government reforms its evaluation system and irons out its online troubles, it has to ensure that no student suffers.