From quality to delivery of question papers, CBSE suggests measures to improve exam system

The panel was also asked to assess potential points of weakness in the present system of transporting question papers — from the printing presses to the examination halls.

The panel formed after the leak of CBSE Class 10 mathematics and Class 12 economics papers has made a number of recommendations to make the current system better.

The panel, headed by VS Oberoi, a former secretary of the Union ministry of human resource development (HRD) and comprising seven others, was tasked by the HRD ministry to review all security-related aspects in the examination system in order to ensure question papers reach the examinees without being tampered.

The panel was also asked to assess potential points of weakness in the present system of transporting question papers — from the printing presses to the examination halls.

Language

* Question paper formats should be reviewed to avoid long question papers.

* Question papers should only be printed in one language — the medium selected by the student.

Paper setters and moderators

* CBSE should have a large pool from which ‘paper setters’ are chosen and the composition of the pool should be changed every year.

Question bank approach

* Paper setters should not prepare question papers, but develop questions, graded and classified for question banks. Questions should be classified by category – conceptual/analytical/capable of reduction to multiple choice, theme, level of difficulty and marks allocated to the question.

* Multiple question papers should be generated from these question banks, thereby introducing sufficient potential for randomisation in the process to thwart leaks based on any paper setter’s “memory”.

* Moderators should not know the final question paper.

Enhancing quality of questions

* CBSE should initiate efforts, in conjunction with NCERT and other bodies and institutions to transit from rote-based to competency-based testing.

* This should be done in stages with the proportion of higher order questions that test understanding, concepts, application and evaluation and promote thinking beyond memorisation.

Delivery of question papers

* Manuscripts must be handed over in specially designed envelopes and not in simple ones as is done now; efforts should be made to conceal identity of the press official.

* QR codes or watermarks specific to each examination centre should be considered on question papers. Centre-specific identification marks should be used on question paper boxes that are dispatched from printers to custodians.

Identification of exam centres

* Self-centres should be sited in private schools only if isn’t possible to locate them in Kendriya Vidyalayas, Jawahar Navodya Vidyalayas, Army or PSU schools, and centres established in private schools should be changed periodically.

Identification of custodians

*Bank branches located inside schools that are exam centres should not be selected as the custodian for that centre.

* Custodians should have a CCTV recording facility that can be made available for the duration of custody of question papers.

Appointment of invigilators, observers and city coordinators

* In cases where the ward of any invigilator/observer/city coordinator is taking the exam, such invigilator/observer/city coordinator should not be assigned duty in the same centre or any centre nearby.

Collection and distribution of question papers

* Collection of question papers by the custodian on the examination date should be monitored online. This will allow board to identity non-compliant centres.

Entry timings

* Candidates should be inside the exam hall and seated by a time pre-specified. No candidate should be allowed to enter the centre once the exam begins.

Transition from rote- to competency-based testing

* More questions based on analysis, reasoning and application should be included in exams.

Performance data and question development process

* National and state examination boards should release anonymous student performance data, covering question level performance data.

Exam fee

* Board should prepare a plan for increasing its own resources to meet the deficit. It should enhance its exam fee to bring them at par with that of NIOS.

* Board should review its affiliation fees and charges.

Accreditation of boards

*For assessment of quality of each board in the country, the HRD should consider setting up a mechanism to accredit boards of examinations based on quality benchmarks.

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