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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Marks inflation in CBSE

You are a Delhi student who did 12th class exam in PCM and English. Received 92% and are happy with it. Sorry to deflate your happiness, but you actually received 82% and CBSE arbitrarily increased your marks to 92% just so that you can compete in Delhi University admissions with boards like TN, AP, etc., where the marks distribution do not follow anything close to normal distribution that you would expect in any large exam.

It follows a story by News18 in early June where they had pointed out several anomalies in the marks distribution in CBSE.

For the last 10 years, every year, it was being pointed out that a very large fraction of CBSE students were getting 95% marks in most of the subjects. CBSE kept saying that it was only doing some minor normalization. But finally, it is out in the open. The minutes of the results committee clearly say that everyone who received marks between 80 and 95 in Maths this year was actually awarded 95 marks. And similar increases were done in a large number of papers and that is why 95 was a magical number in CBSE results. What is interesting is that despite this being pointed out every year by people who were able to download CBSE results and analyse them, it has taken us 10 years to finally get evidence from CBSE that this is indeed happening.
Consider the consequences of this. A student works very hard and gets 95 marks in mathematics. Another student is not so bright and receives 80 marks in Mathematics.  Both of them are being awarded 95 marks. In all other subjects, both perform similarly, but the not so bright student gets one mark extra in English. Now in all admissions, the not so bright student is ahead of our bright student, despite getting a total of 14 marks less. This is when the admissions and careers are decided by one mark here and there. And remember, this is arguably the best managed board in the country.

I can understand that CBSE students have to compete with boards who have no qualms about giving very liberal marks to all their students. I can understand that increasing raw marks is one way to do that, and it is suspected that all boards are doing that. But shouldn't there be a better method to increase raw marks which maintains the relative positions of the students to some extent. Any such "moderation" would distort marks, but could we not ensure that people lost advantage of only a few marks in the process and not such a huge number of marks.
And this is what shocks me. That the Results Committee of as prestigious a board as CBSE does not have anyone who understands basic statistics, even school level statistics. And such a bunch is deciding the future of our kids.

So, it is not just Bihar board that is to be blamed. Most of the boards in the country are doing things which are academically stupid. Look at Telangana board. 20% of the students have received 95% marks or higher in class 12th this year. And of course, AP board will have to learn to compete with Telangana. They used to be the most liberal in earlier days. In 2016, they are the second most liberal graders with 80th percentile being 94% marks.

The school education in the country has collapsed. Out of 3 crore babies born in a year, no more than 3 lakh students would have received quality education and would be well prepared to take the challenges of a globalized world. May be a few lakhs more will learn on their own and manage decent careers. By doing what our boards are doing, we are not just risking the future of our kids, but risking the future of our nation, as the two are one and the same.

The blog that talks about CBSE marks inflation over the last decade and more is linked below.


सौरभ भारती said...

its a joke. coming from Bihar, where anything above 60% is considered close to genius, these south indian boards have no respect for class academia. I am not saying marking of cbse was perfect but it was indeed better during our times (99-01). good students on average got better marks above poor students.

anyways, fact is education itself is completely broken down. it feels stupid looking back at what we were taught and what we learnt (junk and rubbish). intelligence is about discovering small small things and understanding what it is and to play with it. we have done everything else.

I am not surprised to hear these days my cousins who score over 90% fail to even clear AIEEE tests with good ranks. 90percentiles dont impress me anymore.

Animesh Thakur said...

Absolutely agree.

prabhat singh said...

Dear Mr. Sanghi, Prashant Bhattacharjee and I have done extensive data analysis on CBSE marks, and will soon be publishing an article on the same in mainstream media. We would love to quote your blog. Do we have permission for that? Also, could you please drop me message on 09640294433, or leave your number here so that I can contact you?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Prabhat, Your efforts are bearing fruit and after so many years of hard work, something is coming out in the public domain. You can quote anything from any of my public writings. (FB posts are not always public, but blogs are always public.) I will message you my number separately. Thanks a lot.

सौरभ भारती said...

@Prabhat Singh,
pls include regional boards spl from south into your analysis as well. number of students subscribed to them is no less and they are the spoilers of the game.

Utsav said...

Since CBSE has decided to come clean on this aspect, don't you think it leaves no incentive for the state boards for not giving liberal marks. To remain competitive against CBSE, they will decide to be more liberal in donating marks. If not, then a person will surely leave for a board which is liberal.

Baivawa Narayan Singh Narayan Singh said...

The rot is not only in CBSE but it is everywhere and at all tiers in the educational institutions/bodies. UGC ,AICTE, CBSE ,State Boards are all camps of corruption and vice. The interesting addendum to this is that the so called elite educational institutions like IITs,IIMs,IIITs,NITs etc. have also become very non-transparent and arbitrary in the name of autonomy.Designing arbitrary courses (esp. at btech stage),favoritism in faculty recruitment, non-adherence to procedures, turning a deaf ear to students' issues are some of the corrupt practices of these so-called islands of excellence. The problem is that policy-making has always been done by either bureaucrats or people who do not understand the problems of students fully well. The most important stake holder of any endeavor in the direction of quality education is the student himself as he is at the receiving end of all experiments being carried out on him. The mhrd has done nothing but either play with JEE or open new IITs,IIITs,IIMs and form some committees here and there. Rather the approach should be to engage the recent passouts in the industry and students studying in the institutes themselves to evolve an effective feedback mechanism. Otherwise it is like prescribing remedies without properly knowing and understanding the disease. The case in question is nothing but a byproduct of sustained ignorance towards evolving the same.

prabhat singh said...

@Mr.Sanghi, thanks a lot.

prabhat singh said...

@Saurabh, sorry, haven't scraped that data yet. But soon, hopefully. I understand southern boards are the worst in this regard.

Arun Shankar S said...

This is true. My brother had left a 6 mark question, and also had got another question wrong. He ended up getting 95. When I had given my +2 board exam in 2008, I had scored 95 in two subjects. Why do the number 95 appear with a very high frequency in the results every year ? Sheer nonsense.