Competency tests to assess students first language and math skills will be conducted in April for Class 1 to 8 by the state’s education department. While the department has made the test mandatory for all the boards, which it wants to be part of year-end exams, schools have complained that they go on a summer break in April and some of the CBSE, ICSE schools begin classes for the new academic year during that period.
These tests are part of the Pragat Shaikshanik (Progressive in Education) Maharashtra initiative started in 2015 by the department to up the learning quotient of students and improve the quality of education in schools. Schools are graded on the basis of their performance in these tests.
The April test will be summative in nature, evaluating students on what they have learnt in the second semester. This is the third and final of the competency tests for this academic year, 2016-17. Previously, a baseline test assessing pupils’ on previous year’s syllabus was held in July and the first summative test was conducted in October 2016.
According to a circular issued by the department, schools shouldn’t test students on math and first language separately, since they will be covered in the summative test. These tests will be counted as part of the continuous comprehensive evaluation (CCE) pattern followed in schools.
The department will provide common question papers to all schools for the two subjects. “So do not ask teachers to design other question papers for it,” reads the circular sent to all schools in Maharashtra.
But non-state board schools affiliated with ICSE, CBSE or international boards are in a fix over holding these tests. They said that they cannot make the tests part of their annual exams, because they follow a different curriculum.
“While we don’t mind participating in the tests, we cannot use them to replace our own exams,” said Chandrakanta Pathak, principal, HVB Global Academy, Marine Lines. “Our curriculum is entirely different from the one covered in these tests.”
The tests do not fit in the academic calendar of CBSE and ICSE schools. “We begin classes for the next academic year in April before going for a break, so it is not feasible for us to hold tests based on the previous year’s curriculum during that time,” said Avnita Bir, principal, RN Podar School, Santacruz.
State board schools, too, complained that these tests are not held in a fair manner across schools. There are no external examiners or checks to ensure that all schools are conducting them impartially. “Many of the schools give the papers to students in advance or ask them to solve it at home,” said Uday Nare, teacher at Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri. “Unless, there is better supervision during the exams, schools will not take it seriously” he added.