The CBSE moderation policy, also simply known as the ‘Grace Marks Policy’, is the provision whereby grace marks are provided to the students who are shy of a few marks from passing their board examination. The provision also provides grace marks up to 15 percent to students for attempting exceptionally difficult question papers or question papers with errors. CBSE forms a special panel that examines the question papers and decides how many grace marks should be given to the examinee in case of any complaints. This policy has been in practice for more than a decade now with not only CBSE but state boards being party to it as well.
In a historic decision, CBSE decided to scrap it’s moderation policy with effect from April 2017 creating a lot of frenzy and confusion among more than 27 lakh students who appeared for their class 10th and class 12th board examination this year. The call to end this policy came because over the years it has been observed that this practice inflates the marks of the students unnaturally and subsequently leads to abnormally high and unrealistic cut offs for undergraduate courses in universities all over the nation. Point in case being the 100% cut offs for several courses in DU during the past few years. It is also argued that the grace marks policy doesn’t let one distinguish between an average and a good student.
This decision, however, was not welcomed by the students who had already written their board examination by that point and major concerns were expressed by students & parents alike. Students took to Change.org to file a petition for changing the policy in question from 2018 and not from 2017 itself. A PIL was filed by a lawyer and parent contending that the policy should be abandoned from next academic session i.e. 2017-18, which was passed by a Bench comprising of Acting Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice Pratibha M Singh. Furthermore, the High Court called this decision taken by CBSE as “unfair and irresponsible”. Another point of clash arose when the state boards of Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh decided to implement the policy change from next academic session.
This change in policy may prove to be a boon for the students in the long run. Not only will it help to bring the impractical cut-offs down but also ensure that the mark sheets of the students will now bear their real marks. This will further help to take the pressure of college admissions off the students and build a more meritocratic education system. It has also been decided that NCERT syllabus will be adopted nationwide to make it uniform. It may also give sufficient incentive to students to work harder. Many people, on the other hand, feel that this change will be disadvantageous for the students and has several loopholes. It is feared that since the boards can’t ‘tweak’ the results to show a boost in their pass percentage and overall results, they will set exceptionally easy question papers to help students score high marks. In addition to this, there is no transparent way to find out if the State Boards have actually honored their commitment to not award marks artificially. This could prove to be harmful for CBSE students at the time of admissions.
Light will be shed on the final effects of the policy change, giving all speculation a rest, once it is concretely implemented. If implemented correctly it would lead to a fall in the marks scored by CBSE students for the first time in several years but also be the first step towards making college admissions a little less stressful!
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