BCSEA’s Present Decision is Unfair and Unscientific

Regarding the leaked English II paper, this was the decision made by the Bhutan Council for School Examination and Assessment, BCSEA: I belief that this decision is unfair and unscientific for reasons I shall present here.

The board mentions that it will take anywhere from about 4-11 million Ngultrum to redo the exam. This is a huge range and limits us from judging this situation accurately.

Moreover, neither an estimate of the number of students who have had access to the leaked questions and hence the extent of leakage has been provided. I believe that attentive citizens can better make judgments if important information as these were provided.

Now, let’s evaluate why BCSEA’s present decision is unfair and unscientific:

The board justifies their decision saying that the two papers, English I and II are closely related and that they have a correlation of 0.7736. In my knowledge, the above correlation isn’t sufficient to award English I marks for English II. In the case of the above two-variable regression, the R-squared, which is the square of the correlation coefficient, is about 0.60. This basically means that 60% of the variation is accounted for by the model which implies, 60% of a student’s English II marks can be explained by English I marks. This leaves us with 40% variability unaccounted for, which in other words means leaving it to random, chance events. From a statistical point of view, 40% variability is unacceptable and hence, the board’s decision is scientifically unsound.

Furthermore, when the board says to award English I marks to English II, it eventually comes down to entirely dropping English II marks. This is because, in the class 12 board exam results, only an aggregate English marks is shown.

Now, dropping the English II marks is definitely unfair as a whole. Firstly, this will make this year’s results different in structure from the past years. Secondly there will be students who are better at English II than English I. These students will be heavily penalized by this decision of BCSEA. On the other hand, there will be students who are better at English I than English II and these students will enjoy undeserved benefit from this decision. Different students could have different performances in these two English papers [2] because one tests more of the technical aspects such as grammar, language, and composition whereas the other (English II), tests literature out of which 50% is seen texts for which some students prepare really hard.

Therefore, the board’s present decision is unscientific and unfair and simply unacceptable.

I think it is necessary to grade the exam for English paper II and determine the impact of the leak. If there is no evidence that the leak caused significant impact so as to compromise the validity of the exam score, we could use them as usual and fix accountability on the culprits as necessary. Otherwise, we must redo the exam if we are to maintain fairness and quality in our examination system.

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