Ministry of Education

Why 46% of students scored less than 40% in their mid-term exams and why it is a reality check

Recently there was much shock as the Education ministry found that around 46% of students scored less than 40% in their mid-term exams.

The Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said this result was due to the fact that last year the students had to take up online classes and another reason was introduction of the Continuous Assessment System.

Earlier students got pass marks from the internal marks. So to see the performance of the students in external marks, the ministry had set a minimum of 40 percent in both internal and external marks.

He said the revised assessment system will improve the student’s performance and they will study hard too. So to improve the quality of education, this is one of the methods.

As per the education ministry’s findings, both teachers and students must pull up their socks and redesigning the teaching methodology is important now. Otherwise, there will be a huge impact.

The ministry of education (MoE) issued the revised Assessment Structure in June 2021 which directs the schools to follow the minimum pass marks for each subject for key stage II-IV (classes IV-XII). It requires a student to score a minimum of 40 percent in both Continuous Assessment (CA) and the written examinations to be promoted to the next higher grade. This change is being introduced to streamline the assessment system to assess the actual learning of the students.

The outcome of the mid-term examination was that 46 percent of students scored less than 40 percent. So the education ministry has submitted the suggestions to improve student’s performance in annual examinations.

 School principals this paper talked to expressed that the new Continuous Assessment (CA) system will improve the quality of education and raise the standard of students’ learning.

They said the new CA was issued recently, and the students, teachers and parents had little idea about the new change, leading 46 percent of the students to score less than 40 percent in their mid-term examinations across the country.

The Principal of Samtse High School, Tshueltrim Dorji said, with the new CA system students will become more concerned about their learning. Earlier, if a student failed in a written exam, they were still able to manage through their CA marks and not much focus was given in the written exam. Now students have to pass both the CA and written exam, so both teachers and students will have to put in more effort.

He said the new CA system will also segregate those performing students from the non-performing students.

“So in the long run, it will have a positive impact. However, the new CA system came out early and the teachers, students and parents were not aware and ready with the new CA system and probably the performance of the students in the mid-term exam across the nation has drastically gone down,” he said.

The school has been informing students that they cannot just depend upon CA and they will have to score minimum 40 percent in both CA and written exam. “Hopefully within two or three years, things will improve and for the time being it will be a bit difficult.”

Similarly, the principal of Mongar High School, Kinga Rinchen said he personally welcomes the new assessment system because in the new system there are elements of formative assessment which are going to be taken up seriously.

With this current system, he is anticipating that children will take the examination seriously.  He said earlier due to competition among the schools, particularly with the ranking of the schools and teachers, they end up providing full marks in formative assessment in the CA and now in the new system, even if they pass in CA and if they fail in the written examinations, they will not be declared pass.

“So there is no room where the school can manipulate. So this is just the kind of a system which should go ahead and take root in the education system,” said the principal Kinga Rinchen.

The school did well and only few students failed in the mid-term examination, he further added.

Principal of Gelephu High School, Shambay Dawa said the revised assessment system is good in the long run as it will make students work harder. “But on the other hand, giving too much importance to the examinations does not really portray a student’s capability as there are so many other skills and abilities,” he said.

“Examinations at the end of the year do give a lot and in one way it is good for the students, but sitting for examinations at the end of day does not give the full picture of a child. It will be tough for children and they are worried too,” he shared.

He said the assessment is genuine if it is done in the right format. It has a better view of a child’s performance. There is no other way of rewarding a student to a higher class other than passing in the examinations and that is the only way forward.

He said in the new normal curriculum, it is more to do with practical skills and others and along with that, it is important to keep upgrading the resources which might be lacking behind and also at the same time, teachers were also not really prepared for it.

“However, I cannot say it is wrong or right at this juncture, as education takes time to see the results. Just that it came in the middle of the academic session and we were not prepared for that. But it is a matter of time because sooner or later, the new system has to be implemented.”

He said the school is strategizing on exam-centered teaching learning and that will make them pass but not give them the base.

“We test students just based on the marks they scored in the examination but it does not mean that a child scoring a good mark in their exam is best. They may be academically best but that child may not have all that human quality. Examinations are not the only way to tell that a child is better in everything and capable of doing well in colleges,” he opined.

He said Gelephu High School has the worst performance compared to last years’ mid-term and that happens to be especially from class XI.

“Probably because last year when they were in class VIII, they couldn’t have a good teaching-learning experience due to COVID-19. Also, the number of subjects they have to take in is more they had hard time to cope with it,” said the Principal.

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