After hearing concerns raised by parents and students, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Council for Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) to place before it the exact methodology for alternate grading of students based on internal assessment for the remaining exams of classes X and XII so that they can make an informed decision whether or not to appear for physical examination in July.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice SS Shinde heard, through video-conference, a plea by advocate Arvind Raghunath Tiwari, also the parent of a student from an ICSE-affiliated school, who had sought a court direction to the authorities to cancel the rescheduled exams in view of the pandemic and declare results on the basis of past performance in the papers for which exams have not been held yet.
Last month, the CISCE said it will conduct the remaining exams starting July 1. In a statement, the board said class X exams will be held from July 2 to 12 and class XII exams from July 1 to 14.
Responding to the plea, the CISCE on June 15 had said it will not force students to appear for the remaining exams for classes X and XII in July and that it had decided to offer students two options — they can appear for the remaining papers as per the revised schedule or they could opt-out, in which case the final results will be based on their performance in internal assessment or pre-board exams.
The council Wednesday said schools would be asked to extend the time for parents and students to decide on whether they want to appear for physical examination and would submit the detailed methodology before the court by June 22, when the submissions on the same will be heard.
On Wednesday, Tiwari and other intervenors, including parents, stressed on the need for fair and transparent options to be given to the students, stating there was no clarity in the council’s decision.
The Maharashtra government also informed the HC that it has the power and authority to regulate and, if necessary, completely prevent the conduct of CISCE board exams of pending papers in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said depending on how many students opt to actually appear for the physical exams, it will be able to take a final decision.
Even as CISCE has proposed to grade students based on their pre-board marks in case they did not wish to appear for physical exams of pending papers, parents have pointed the CISCE has not considered the fact that many students have not appeared for their pre-boards. “Is it not forcing them indirectly?” said a parent, adding that the choices given by the CISCE force these students to either appear for exams or fail.
Another set of parents has sought more clarity on what the CISCE meant by “pre-boards”. “Pre-boards can be interpreted as either prelim exams, 20-mark internal tests, marks scored in the first-term exams or a combination of these. The stand of the CISCE has put parents and students in a fix. We want the board to clearly define what their approach will be. However, we hope the council cancels all exams just like other boards have done,” said a parent Shahrookh Contractor of St Mary’s School, Mazgaon.
Meanwhile, schools have said they are prepared to execute the CISCE’s decision. “We have been receiving queries regarding the issue but we have been regularly resolving them. Parents can now send us their choices by June 24,” said the principal of an ICSE-affiliated school in Mumbai.
Seeking from CISCE an exact methodology on alternate assessment to enable students and parents to make an informed decision, the high court has posted further hearing on June 22.